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07.01.2016 | Original Article

Observation period for asymptomatic penetrating chest trauma: 1 or 3 h?

European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery
L. Seidzadeh Gooklan, A. Yari, M. Mayel, S. Nazemi, M. Movahedi, A. Mirafzal



Current recommendations for evaluation and safe discharge of penetrating chest trauma patients regarding pneumothorax (PTX) include a Chest X Ray (CXR) at the Emergency Department (ED) upon arrival and second CXR after 3 h if the first one is negative.


To compare CXRs taken at the first and third hours of ED arrival and evaluate a 1 h period of observation instead of 3 h for safe discharge of patients with penetrating chest trauma.


In this cross-sectional study, all asymptomatic patients with penetrating chest trauma referred to a level 1 trauma center with negative initial Postero-Anterior (PA) CXRs (hour 0) were enrolled. Those with intoxication, tube thoracostomy, chest computed tomography, evidence of abdominal penetration, an overall elapsed timed of more than 1 h for admission to the ED, and refusal to take part in the study were excluded. Patients underwent subsequent PA CXRs at hours 1 and 3. A phone call follow up after 24 h was organized for each patient.


A total of 68 patients were enrolled. There was 100 % concordance among CXRs performed at hours 1 and 3 in the study population. None of the patients showed clinical deterioration or PTX in CXR at hour 1 if remained asymptomatic during the first hour of observation.


Asymptomatic patients with penetrating chest trauma, negative initial PA CXR, no signs of intoxication, and no deterioration during the first hour of observation may be considered for discharge. Further evidence is required to make recommendations based on these findings.

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