How is hemothorax diagnosed?

Updated: Jul 13, 2020
  • Author: Mary C Mancini, MD, PhD, MMM; Chief Editor: Jeffrey C Milliken, MD  more...
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Answer

Upright chest radiography is the ideal primary diagnostic study in the evaluation of hemothorax. Additional imaging studies, such as ultrasonography and computed tomography (CT), may sometimes be required for identification and quantification of a hemothorax noted on a plain chest radiograph.

In some cases of nontraumatic hemothorax, especially those resulting from metastatic pleural implants, patients may present with the finding of a new pleural effusion of unknown etiology, and hemothorax may not be identified until the initial diagnostic needle aspiration is performed.


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