Can Surgeons Evaluate Emergency Ultrasound Scans for Blunt Abdominal Trauma

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Abstract

Objective

To determine whether surgeons and residents with minimal training can evaluate accurately emergency ultrasound (US) examinations compared with radiologists for blunt abdominal trauma.

Methods

Over 7 months, we conducted a prospective study comparing the evaluation of emergency US for blunt abdominal trauma by surgeons and attending radiologists. US readings from the surgical team and the radiologists were correlated with outcome.

Results

One hundred-twelve patients were included in the study. Ninety-two patients had an US read as negative by the surgical and radiology services with no subsequent injuries identified. Eighteen patients had an US deemed positive by the surgical service and radiologists. Injuries were confirmed in this group by operation or computed tomography. One patient had an US deemed positive by the surgical team and subsequently negative by the radiologist. A diagnostic peritoneal lavage was performed which was negative. Another patient had an US interpreted as negative by the surgical evaluator and positive by the radiologist. Exploratory laparotomy was negative for intra-abdominal hemorrhage or organ injury. Overall results reveal an accuracy on US reading of 99% for the surgical team and 99% for the attending radiologists.

Conclusion

Surgeons and surgical residents at different levels of training can accurately interpret emergency ultrasound examinations for blunt trauma from the real-time images, at a level comparable to attending radiologists.

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