Surgeon-performed ultrasound for pneumothorax in the trauma suite

Jason L Knudtson, Jonathan M Dort, Stephen D Helmer, R Stephen Smith
Journal of Trauma 2004, 56 (3): 527-30

BACKGROUND: Surgeon-performed ultrasound has become ubiquitous in the trauma suite. Initial reports suggest that sonography may be used for the detection of pneumothorax. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of sonography to rule out the presence of a pneumothorax in the trauma population.

METHODS: A prospective analysis of 328 consecutive trauma patients at an American College of Surgeons-verified Level I trauma center was undertaken. Thoracic ultrasound was performed before chest radiography. The presence or absence of a "sliding-lung" sign or "comet-tail" artifact was recorded.

RESULTS: Of 328 evaluations, there were 312 true-negatives, 12 true-positives, 1 false-negative, 1 false-positive, and 2 exclusions. Specificity, negative predictive value, and accuracy were 99.7%, 99.7%, and 99.4%, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Ultrasound is a reliable modality for the diagnosis of pneumothorax in the injured patient. This modality may serve as an adjunct or precursor to routine chest radiography in the evaluation of injured patients.

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