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Role of Volume Rendered 3-D Computed Tomography in Conservative Management of Trauma-related Thoracic Injuries

O'Leary, Donal Peter MB; Soo, Alan MD; McLaughlin, Patrick MB; Aherne, Thomas Mch

doi: 10.1097/RTI.0b013e31821bdaa0
Web Exclusive Content—Case Reports: Cardiovascular

Pneumatic nail guns are a tool used commonly in the construction industry and are widely available. Accidental injuries from nail guns are common, and several cases of suicide using a nail gun have been reported. Computed tomographic (CT) imaging, together with echocardiography, has been shown to be the gold standard for investigation of these cases. We present a case of a 55-year-old man who presented to the accident and emergency unit of a community hospital following an accidental pneumatic nail gun injury to his thorax. Volume-rendered CT of the thorax allowed an accurate assessment of the thoracic injuries sustained by this patient. As there was no evidence of any acute life-threatening injury, a sternotomy was avoided and the patient was observed closely until discharge. In conclusion, volume-rendered 3-dimensional CT can greatly help in the decision to avoid an unnecessary sternotomy in patients with a thoracic nail gun injury.

Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Cork University Hospital

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Donal Peter O'Leary, MB, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Department of Surgery, Cork University Hospital (e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.