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COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Use of ultrasonography in the patient with acute renal trauma

J P McGahan, J R Richards, C D Jones, E O Gerscovich
Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine: Official Journal of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine 1999, 18 (3): 207-13; quiz 215-6
10082355
The purpose of this study was to assess the use of emergent ultrasonographic examination in acute traumatic renal injuries. Over a 3 year period, prospective data of all patients who had an emergency ultrasonogram were recorded. Thirty-two patients with 37 renal injuries were studied retrospectively to identify in how many patients the sonogram detected free fluid or a renal parenchymal abnormality. Free fluid in the abdomen was identified in 19 of 32 patients (59%). However, 12 of these 19 patients had concomitant injury, such as splenic rupture requiring splenectomy, severe liver lacerations, or bowel lacerations requiring repair, that were possible causes of the free fluid. Eliminating these patients, only seven of 20 patients with isolated renal injuries had free fluid in the abdomen (35%), whereas 13 of 20 patients (65%) had no evidence of free fluid. All seven patients with free fluid had moderate or severe renal injuries. Renal parenchymal abnormalities were identified on ultrasonograms in eight of 37 (22%) of injured kidneys. The abnormalities were detected more commonly in cases of severe injury (60%). In conclusion, acute injuries of the kidney from blunt abdominal trauma often are associated with significant splenic, hepatic, or bowel trauma. Isolated renal injuries frequently occur without the presence of free fluid in the abdomen. Furthermore, the ultrasonogram of the kidney often is normal with acute renal injuries, but it is more likely to be abnormal with severe (grade II or greater) renal injuries. Sonography may be used in the triage of patients with blunt abdominal trauma and possible renal injury. However, a negative ultrasonogram does not exclude renal injury, and, depending on clinical and laboratory findings, other imaging procedures such as computed tomography should be performed.

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