CT polytrauma (technique)

Dr Henry Knipe and Dr Jeremy Jones et al.

CT polytrauma/multitrauma (also called trauma CT) is an increasingly used test in the patient with multiple injuries sustained after significant trauma.

There is some evidence that trauma patients who undergo whole body CT (WBCT) / panscan have better survival than patients who undergo selective scanning 3 but this is yet to be definitely proven 5. As well as traumatic injuries, trauma CT uncovers incidental findings which have varying levels of significance 6,7.


Indications will vary from institution-to-institution but indications by mechanism include:

  • high speed motor vehicle collision
  • non-trivial motorcycle collision
  • death at the scene
  • fall from height >2 metres
  • other concerning mechanism of injury
  • abnormal FAST, or trauma chest or pelvis x-ray
  • abnormal vital signs


Actual procedure will vary depending on institutional protocol/guidelines, but a typical protocol will include non-contrast and contrast-enhanced CT of the head, neck, chest, and abdomen/pelvis (i.e. panscan/WBCT):

Additionally depending on the injuries present, especially if the images are reviewed with the patient is still on the CT table, the following phases may be useful:

There are numerous variations including:

  • additional non-contrast CT of the upper abdomen
  • triphasic injection single pass CT of the chest, abdomen and pelvis 4
CT examinations
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Article information

rID: 9051
Section: Radiography
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • CT of multi-trauma
  • CT multitrauma
  • CT multi-trauma
  • Trauma panscan
  • Whole body CT (WBCT)

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    Case 5: thoracic CT angiogram
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