Evaluation of computed tomography and diagnostic peritoneal lavage in blunt abdominal trauma

D. M. Meyer, E. R. Thal, J. A. Weigelt, H. C. Redman

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145 Scopus citations


Three hundred one hemodynamically stable patients with equivocal abdominal examinations following blunt abdominal trauma had a CT scan followed by DPL. Both studies were negative in 194 patients (71.6%) and positive in 51 patients (27.1%). Seven of the 51 patients (13.7%) had an additional significant injury at operation that was not seen on the CT scan. Nineteen patients had a negative CT scan, a positive DPL, and a significant injury confirmed at celiotomy. In this group of 19 patients, the CT failed to identify seven splenic, three hepatic, and three small bowel injuries. There were two complications attributed to DPL. Three patients had a false negative DPL. Diagnostic peritoneal lavage continues to be a reliable study (sensitivity— 95.9%, specificity—99%, accuracy—98.2%). The CT scan is not as sensitive (sensitivity—74.3%, p < 0.001; specificity—99.5%, accuracy—92.6%). It is concluded that selective use of both procedures is appropriate as long as one recognizes the inherent limitations of each.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1168-1172
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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