Ultrasound in trauma

James C R Rippey, Alistair G Royse
Best Practice & Research. Clinical Anaesthesiology 2009, 23 (3): 343-62
Point-of-care ultrasound is well suited for use in the emergency setting for assessment of the trauma patient. Currently, portable ultrasound machines with high-resolution imaging capability allow trauma patients to be imaged in the pre-hospital setting, emergency departments and operating theatres. In major trauma, ultrasound is used to diagnose life-threatening conditions and to prioritise and guide appropriate interventions. Assessment of the basic haemodynamic state is a very important part of ultrasound use in trauma, but is discussed in more detail elsewhere. Focussed assessment with sonography for Trauma (FAST) rapidly assesses for haemoperitoneum and haemopericardium, and the Extended FAST examination (EFAST) explores for haemothorax, pneumothorax and intravascular filling status. In regional trauma, ultrasound can be used to detect fractures, many vascular injuries, musculoskeletal injuries, testicular injuries and can assess foetal viability in pregnant trauma patients. Ultrasound can also be used at the bedside to guide procedures in trauma, including nerve blocks and vascular access. Importantly, these examinations are being performed by the treating physician in real time, allowing for immediate changes to management of the patient. Controversy remains in determining the best training to ensure competence in this user-dependent imaging modality.

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