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Emergency evaluation of patients presenting with acute scrotum using bedside ultrasonography.

UNLABELLED: Acute scrotal pain is not a rare emergency department (ED) complaint. Traditional reliance on medical history and physical examination can be precarious as signs and symptoms can overlap in various etiologies of acute scrotal pain.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the accuracy with which emergency physicians (EPs) using bedside ultrasonography are able to evaluate patients presenting to the ED with acute scrotal pain.

METHODS: The study was performed at an urban community hospital ED with a residency program and an annual census of 70,000. A retrospective chart review identified 36 patients who presented with complaints of acute scrotal pain and were evaluated by EPs using bedside ultrasound. A 5.0- or 7.5-MHz linear-array transducer with color and power Doppler capability was used to scan the scrotum. Patients were seen between July 1998 and September 1999. Diagnoses were verified by radiology or surgery. Sensitivity and specificity with 95% confidence intervals were calculated.

RESULTS: The EP ultrasound examinations agreed with confirmatory studies for 35 of 36 patients, resulting in a sensitivity of 95% (95% CI = 0.78 to 0.99) and a specificity of 94% (95% CI = 0.72 to 0.99). Diagnoses included three testicular torsions, six cases of epididymitis, four cases of orchitis, one testicular fracture, three hernias, three hydroceles, and 15 normal examinations. One case of epididymitis was misdiagnosed as an epididymal mass.

CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that EPs using bedside ultrasonography are able to accurately diagnose patients presenting with acute scrotal pain. In addition, they appear able to differentiate between surgical emergencies, such as testicular torsion, and other etiologies.

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