Objective: To characterize the clinical findings in dogs and cats that sustained blunt trauma and to compare clinical respiratory examination results with post-traumatic thoracic radiography findings.
Design: Retrospective clinical study.
Setting: University small animal teaching hospital.
Animals, interventions and measurements: 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.