A new computer-aided
method used with MDCT to detect and measure pneumothoraces in trauma patients
helps physicians make quicker and more accurate decisions in busy emergency room
settings, according to a study performed at Massachusetts General Hospital and
Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA.
“With the rapid
development of multi-detector CT, such as 64-slice MDCT, CT scanning of trauma patients replaced
traditional x-ray radiography in emergency care and is becoming the primary
trauma survey in many clinical institutions,” said Wenli Cai, PhD, lead author
of the study. “The treatment of pneumothorax, in addition to the patient’s
clinical presentation, is determined based upon the size of the pneumothorax. So
far, there has been no established or reliable method for accurately and
efficiently determining pneumothorax size. This inspired us to investigate a
tool for measuring pneumothorax size in trauma patients,” said Dr. Cai.
The study included 68
patients with occult pneumothorax. A total of 83 pneumothoraces were identified
and their size was measured manually using MDCT images. The study compared the
computer-aided results to the manual volumetric measurements for individual
pneumothoraces and found that the computerized method was just as accurate as
the manual one. Moreover, the computer-aided method took an average of three
minutes, whereas it took about half an hour to an hour for manual measurement.
Thirty to 39% of all
patients suffering from chest trauma have pneumothorax. “It is a critical
condition and it is important for physicians to be able to make quick and
accurate decisions regarding treatment. The computer-aided method can help out
in the decision making process by providing an important and essential index of
the need for treatment,” said Dr. Cai.
“Aside from being quick
and accurate, MDCT and the computer-aided method may help avoid unnecessary
surgeries, too. When the pneumothorax is small and the patient is stable,
physicians do not need to perform surgery. The computer-aided quantification
method can quickly show us how large the pneumothorax is and give accurate
monitoring information over the course of several days,” said Dr.