Evaluation of a diagnostic protocol using screening diagnostic peritoneal lavage with selective use of abdominal computed tomography in blunt abdominal trauma

T S Mele, K Stewart, B Marokus, G E O'Keefe
Journal of Trauma 1999, 46 (5): 847-52

BACKGROUND: The optimal method of evaluating blunt abdominal trauma remains controversial. A combination of a sensitive screening test, diagnostic peritoneal lavage (DPL), and a specific test, abdominal computed tomography (CT), may be a safe, efficient approach to adult blunt abdominal trauma.

METHODS: A prospective cohort study compared a protocol using screening DPL followed by selective use of abdominal CT (DPL/abdominal CT) and the use of abdominal CT alone in the evaluation of hemodynamically stable, adult blunt trauma patients.

RESULTS: One hundred sixty-seven adult blunt trauma patients were initially evaluated by DPL (n = 71) or abdominal CT (n = 96). Emergency department evaluation required less time in the DPL/abdominal CT group than in the abdominal CT alone group (41 minutes vs. 2.5 hours; p < 0.001). There were no missed injuries in the DPL/abdominal CT group versus seven missed injuries in the abdominal CT group (p = 0.02). There were no nontherapeutic celiotomies in either study group.

CONCLUSION: Screening DPL, followed by abdominal CT if positive, is a safe, efficient method of evaluating adult blunt abdominal trauma that reduces the time required to evaluate the abdomen, does not result in increased nontherapeutic celiotomies, results in fewer missed injuries, and reduces the overall use of abdominal CT.

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