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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Frequency of Incidental Findings on Computed Tomography of Trauma Patients

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Objective: To determine the incidence and frequency of follow-up instructions for incidental findings on computed tomography (CT) scanning of the abdomen and pelvis in trauma patients.

Methods: We performed a retrospective chart review of all adult patients triaged to the trauma service at a Level I trauma center between July 1, 2003 and June 30, 2004. Included patients were 16 years of age and older who underwent abdomen and pelvic CT scans as part of their primary evaluation. We excluded patients under the age of 16 years, patients unable to complete radiographic studies due to deterioration in condition, patients with missing CT scan reports, and transferred patients who had CT scans done at outside facilities.

Results: A total of 1,633 patients presented to the trauma service during the study period; 922 patients met inclusion criteria. Of these, 392 had incidental findings noted on the formal radiology report. Twenty patients with incidental findings either received additional workup during their hospital admission for their trauma injuries or were notified of the findings on discharge. Nine died prior to discharge. One hundred twenty-two patients with incidental findings had those findings noted in the history and physical or discharge summary with no documentation of follow-up. There was no documentation of any incidental findings in the electronic record for the majority of patients (242) with incidental findings.

Conclusion: The majority of incidental findings discovered on abdomen and pelvic CT scanning of trauma patients are not documented; therefore, many patients may not receive the appropriate recommended follow up. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(1):24-27].

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