The early clinical management of patients with major trauma still represents a challenge. To clinically evaluate the full extent of a patient’s injuries is difficult, especially when the patient is unconscious. Before December 2002, trauma patients admitted to our emergency room (ER) underwent a diagnostic protocol including physical examination, conventional radiography (CR), sonography and further procedures if necessary. After the installation of a MSCT scanner, all trauma patients underwent the “MSCT protocol” immediately after admission. The aim of the study was to compare the “MSCT-protocol” as it is performed at our institution, with the “Pre-MSCT-protocol”.
We compared 185 patients undergoing the “Pre MSCT-protocol” with 185 patients undergoing “MSCT protocol”. We evaluated the efficacy, speed and accuracy of the “MSCT protocol” using several variables. Time periods from admission to the ER to admission to the intensive care unit were compared as well as outcome parameters such as length of ICU stay, ventilation period and rates of organ. Dichotomous data were analyzed by Chi-square analysis; continuous data were analyzed by Student’s t test. Any values of p < 0.05 were considered significant for any test.
No significant differences were found regarding demographic data. The full extent of injuries was definitively diagnosed after 12 ± 9 minutes in 92.4% of the “MSCT protocol” cohort. In only 76.2% of “Pre-MSCT protocol” cohort definitive diagnosis was possible after 41 ± 27 minutes. Total ER time was 104 ± 21 minutes with the “Pre-MSCT protocol” and 70 ± 17 minutes with “MSCT protocol” (p < 0.05). “Pre-MSCT protocol” patients had a significantly longer ICU stay than “MSCT protocol” patients (p < 0.05). “MSCT protocol” patients had significantly fewer ventilation days (14.3 vs. 10.9 days). Furthermore, rates of organ failure were lower in patients undergoing the “MSCT protocol”.
We could demonstrate that immediate MSCT in patients with blunt major trauma leads to more accurate and faster diagnosis, and reduction of early clinical time intervals. We also observed a reduction in ventilation, ICU, and hospital days, and in organ failure rates, though this might have been partly due to small differences in case mix. The “MSCT protocol” algorithm seems to be safe and effective.