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New Study Highlights Value of Full Body CT Scans for Diagnosing Sepsis in ICU Patients

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 10 Dec 2021
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New research has highlighted the value of full body computed tomography (CT) scans for diagnosing sepsis in patients admitted to the ICU, with the modality detecting the “majority” of underlying infection, according to experts.

In order to gain a better understanding of the application of whole-body CT in intensive care patients suspected to have sepsis and septic shock, researchers at the Berlin Institute of Health (Berlin, Germany) retrospectively analyzed 227 CT examinations from 165 septic patients. The team classified imaging that included the chest and abdomen as “body CT” examinations, and all the scans, except one were contrast enhanced.

CT identified a total of 264 foci in the chest (154/264), abdomen (70/264), genitourinary system (14/264) and other body regions (26/264). CT demonstrated a sensitivity of 75.8% and specificity of 59.7% in detecting septic foci. After the foci had been identified, the researchers compared the results with the final focus in the discharge documents and noted a significant agreement of 78%. In the case of patients who underwent more than one CT exam, additional foci and foci progression were detected. Thus, the study demonstrated the value of CT in ruling in sepsis or septic shock, although the researchers have cautioned that it should not be used to rule out an infectious source.

“The results showed that repeat CT imaging can visualize new foci in a subset of patients and also provide feedback on the success of targeted treatment of infections identified by earlier CT examinations,” stated the researchers.

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Berlin Institute of Health


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