CT of acute abdominopelvic hemorrhage: protocols, pearls, and pitfalls
Abdominal and pelvic hemorrhage may be secondary to a number of causes and is often a medical emergency. Patient presentation ranges from obvious trauma with evidence of hemodynamic instability to vague symptoms. CT has become the imaging modality of choice for identifying abdominopelvic hemorrhage. Recognizing acute hemorrhage as well as identifying its location and severity are key to expediting management. In the Emergency Department, ultrasound often used in the initial evaluation of trauma patients, but is not sensitive for subtle bleeds or injuries. CT is the best first-line imaging tool to identify abdominal hemorrhage and, compared with angiography, has been shown to be superior in detecting intra-abdominal bleeding, especially when the bleeding rate is low. Depending on location and etiology, abdominopelvic hemorrhage may have a characteristic appearance, such as the 'sentinel clot' sign associated with blunt trauma to the solid organs or the 'triangle sign' of a mesenteric bleed. The following pictorial essay reviews CT technique, study interpretation, and interpretative pearls and pitfalls in the recognition of acute abdominopelvic hemorrhage.