UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Trauma

Title: Post mortem Ct scan study identifies blunt traumatic arrest injuries

Keywords: arrest, trauma, pneumothorax, CT scan (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/19/2023 by Robert Flint, MD (Emailed: 9/3/2023) (Updated: 6/24/2024)
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In a study looking at 80 blunt trauma patients that died within 1 hour of arrival to a trauma center who underwent a noncontrast post mortem CT scan the following injuries were identified:

            -40% traumatic brain injury

            -25% long bone fracture

            -22.5% hemoperitoneum

            -25% cervical spine injury

            - 18.8% moderate/large pneumothorax

            -5% esophageal intubation


Blunt trauma arrest patients deserve decompression of the chest (preferred method is open with finger sweep). Intubation should be verified with end tidal CO2. Verification on arrival at the trauma center is also prudent.


Levin, Jeremy H. MD; Pecoraro, Anthony MD, MBA; Ochs, Victoria; Meagher, Ashley MD; Steenburg, Scott D. MD; Hammer, Peter M. MD, FACS. Characterization of fatal blunt injuries using postmortem computed tomography. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 95(2):p 186-190, August 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/TA.0000000000004012