Cardiac contusion is a potentially fatal complication of blunt chest trauma. The diagnosis is obscured because cardiac contusion usually occurs in a setting of multisystem trauma. Furthermore, the electrocardiographic changes are nonspecific. Experience with 2-dimensional echocardiography in evaluating cardiac trauma has not previously been emphasized. This report examines the results of 2-dimensional echocardiographic examinations in 7 patients after significant blunt chest trauma. Generalized right ventricular dilatation was identified in 4 cases; superimposed segmental areas of right ventricular dilatation occurred in 3. Three patients had localized myocardial thinning, and segmental wall motion abnormalities occurred in 2. Additional abnormalities identified included ventricular thrombi (4 right and 1 left ventricular), fibrinous pericardial effusion (1), ruptured tricuspid chordae with flail leaflet (1), and a small aneurysm of the sinus of Valsalva (1). It is concluded that 2-dimensional echocardiography is useful for diagnosing cardiac contusion, for estimating the extent of myocardial damage, and for identifying accompanying cardiac lesions such as thrombi, pericardial effusion, and valvular disruption.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine