ED evaluation of the pediatric trauma patient by ultrasonography

S W Corbett, H G Andrews, E M Baker, W G Jones
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2000, 18 (3): 244-9
The purpose of this study was to determine the accuracy of ultrasound examination of pediatric trauma patients by emergency physicians. Pediatric (age less than 18 years) trauma patients presenting to the emergency department of a level I trauma center were prospectively examined with bedside ultrasound during the secondary survey of their trauma resuscitation. Examinations were performed by emergency medicine residents and attending physicians who had completed an 8-hour course on trauma ultrasonography. Trauma physicians providing care to the patient were blinded to the results of the examination. In 47 children (median age 9 years) computed tomography of the abdomen/pelvis or laparotomy were also performed and served as gold standards to verify the presence or absence of free fluid in the abdomen. Sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of the ultrasound examination for the detection of free fluid in the abdominal cavity was 75% (95% confidence interval [CI] 36% to 95%), 97% (95% CI 81% to 100%), and 92% (95% Cl 77% to 98%). Positive and negative predictive values were 90% (95% CI 46% to 100%) and 92% (95% CI 74% to 99%), respectively. Ultrasound examinations took an average of 7 minutes and 36 seconds, although this did not take into consideration delays created by interruptions for other diagnostic tests or procedures. An emergency physician and radiologist agreed on blinded interpretations of 83% of the examinations (kappa = 0.56). Bedside ultrasonography is a reliable and rapid method for screening traumatized children for the presence or absence of free fluid in the peritoneum even in the hands of novice sonographers.

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