JOURNAL ARTICLE

Poor test characteristics for the digital rectal examination in trauma patients

Gil Z Shlamovitz, William R Mower, Jonathan Bergman, Jonathan Crisp, Heather K DeVore, David Hardy, Martine Sargent, Sunil D Shroff, Eric Snyder, Marshall T Morgan
Annals of Emergency Medicine 2007, 50 (1): 25-33, 33.e1
17391807

STUDY OBJECTIVE: Current advanced trauma life support guidelines recommend that a digital rectal examination be performed as part of the initial evaluation of all trauma patients. Our goal is to estimate the test characteristics of the digital rectal examination in trauma patients.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective medical record review study of consecutive trauma patients treated in our emergency department from January 2003 to February 2005 for whom the trauma team was activated and who had a documented digital rectal examination.

RESULTS: One thousand four hundred one patients met our selection criteria and were included in the analysis. We estimated the composite sensitivity of the digital rectal examination (any abnormal finding) for detecting any of the index injuries to be 22.9% (95% confidence interval [CI] 16% to 30%) and the specificity to be 94.7% (95% CI 93% to 96%). The calculated sensitivity and specificity for the digital rectal examination were 37% (95% CI 23% to 50%) and 96% (95% CI 95% to 97%), respectively, for detection of spinal cord injury, 5.7% (95% CI 0% to 13%) and 98.9% (95% CI 98% to 99%) for detection of bowel injury, 33.3% (95% CI 0% to 87%) and 99.8% (95% CI 99% to 100%) for detection of rectal injury, 0% and 99.8% (95% CI 99% to 100%) for detection of pelvic fracture, and 20% (95% CI 0% to 55%) and 99% (95% CI 98% to 100%) for detection of urethral disruption.

CONCLUSION: The digital rectal examination has poor sensitivity for the diagnosis of spinal cord, bowel, rectal, bony pelvis, and urethral injuries. Our findings suggest that the digital rectal examination should not be used as a screening tool for detecting injuries in trauma patients.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article

Discussion

You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read
17391807
×

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.

×

Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"