|About 20 percent of them have normal X-rays, and the best diagnostic tool is auscultation: If abnormal sounds are noticed in thorax auscultation, most animals also have abnormal chest X-rays!
Case records of 63 dogs and 96 cats presenting with a history of blunt trauma and thoracic radiographs between September 2001 and May 2003 were examined. Clinical signs of respiratory distress (respiratory rate (RR), pulmonary auscultation) and outcome were compared with radiographic signs of blunt trauma.
Results: Forty-nine percent of dogs and 63.5% of cats had radiographic signs attributed to thoracic trauma.
Twenty-two percent of dogs and 28% of cats had normal radiographs.
Abnormal auscultation results were significantly associated with radiographic signs of thoracic trauma, radiography score and presence and degree of contusions.
Seventy-two percent of animals with no other injuries showed signs of thoracic trauma on chest radiographs.
No correlation was found between the radiographic findings and outcome, whereas the trauma score at presentation was significantly associated with outcome and with signs of chest trauma but not with the radiography score.
Conclusion: Thoracic trauma is encountered in many blunt trauma patients. The RR of animals with blunt trauma is not useful in predicting thoracic injury, whereas abnormal chest auscultation results are indicative of chest abnormalities.
Thorough chest auscultation is, therefore, mandatory in all trauma animals and might help in the assessment of necessity of chest radiographs.
Source: Sigrist, Nadja E., Doherr, Marcus G. & Spreng, David E. (2004): Clinical findings and diagnostic value of post-traumatic thoracic radiographs in dogs and cats with blunt trauma. In: Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care 14 (4), 259-268.
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