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Prospective evaluation of non-radiologist performed emergency abdominal ultrasound for haemoperitoneum


Objectives: To evaluate non-radiologist performed emergency ultrasound for the detection of haemoperitoneum after abdominal trauma in a British accident and emergency department.

Methods: Focused assessment with sonography for trauma (FAST) was performed during the primary survey on adult patients triaged to the resuscitation room with suspected abdominal injury over a 12 month period. All investigations were performed by one of three non-radiologists trained in FAST. The ultrasound findings were compared against the investigation of choice of the attending surgeon/accident and emergency physician. The patients were followed up for clinically significant events until hospital discharge or death.

Results: One hundred patients who had sustained blunt abdominal trauma, were evaluated by FAST. Nine true positive scans were detected and confirmed by computed tomography, diagnostic peritoneal lavage, or laparotomy. There was one false positive in this group, giving a sensitivity of 100%, specificity 99%, and positive predictive value of 90%. Ten patients with penetrating injuries were evaluated with a sensitivity and specificity for FAST of 33% and 86% respectively.

Conclusions: Emergency torso ultrasound for the detection of haemoperitoneum can be successfully performed by trained non-radiologists within a British accident and emergency system. It is an accurate and rapid investigation for blunt trauma, but the results should be interpreted with caution in penetrating injury.

  • CT, computed tomography
  • FAST, focused assessment with sonography for trauma
  • DPL, diagnostic peritoneal lavage
  • RTS, revised trauma score
  • ISS, injury severity score
  • ultrasound
  • focused assessment with sononography for trauma
  • FAST
  • blunt trauma
  • penetrating injury

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