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Scans Identify Common Injuries After Earthquake

Last Updated: January 01, 2010.

Multiple fractures and lung injuries were common in victims of a major earthquake in China who suffered crush thoracic trauma, according to research published in the January issue of Radiology.

FRIDAY, Jan. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Multiple fractures and lung injuries were common in victims of a major earthquake in China who suffered crush thoracic trauma, according to research published in the January issue of Radiology.

Zhi-Hui Dong, M.D., of the West China Hospital of Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, and colleagues analyzed data from 215 patients who sustained crush injuries in a major earthquake in May 2008 who subsequently underwent multidetector chest computed tomographic scans.

The researchers found that most patients (66.5 percent) sustained at least one rib fracture, with a total number of 995 ribs fractured. Many patients with rib fractures had flail chest (31.5 percent). Forty-six patients had at least one vertebral fracture, nearly half of which occurred in T3 through T10. Most patients had pulmonary parenchymal or pleural injuries (54.4 and 67.9 percent, respectively). Nearly 6 percent had sternal fractures, and 22.3 percent had fractures of the scapula or clavicle.

"In conclusion, crush thoracic trauma in the massive Sichuan earthquake was a life-threatening injury, with a large number of fractured ribs and high incidences of multiple fractures of ribs and pulmonary parenchymal injuries, which were perhaps due to the special mechanism of this type of injury. We highly stress the high incidences of first and second rib fractures, flail chest, T1 through T10 fractures, lung contusion, and hemopneumothorax as the noticeable features that need appropriate medical treatment," the authors conclude.

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