Extrabiliary Pathology Identified by Right Upper Quadrant Abdominal Ultrasound in Emergency Department Patients

Brent A Becker, William A Fields, Lauren Pfisterer, Robert M Stuntz, Barbara A Stahlman, Erik I Kochert
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2016, 50 (1): 92-8

BACKGROUND: The effectiveness of point of care (POC) right upper quadrant ultrasound (RUQ US) in the diagnosis of biliary disease has been well studied. Extrabiliary pathology that might remain undetected in the course of typical, focused POC RUQ US has not been directly examined.

OBJECTIVES: Our objective was to determine the prevalence and clinical significance of extrabiliary findings (EBFs) seen on radiology-performed, comprehensive RUQ US.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective review of all adult patients undergoing radiology-performed RUQ US in the emergency department (ED) between January 2007 and April 2012. Ultrasound findings and contemporaneous laboratory values were collected. EBFs were identified and further classified by clinical significance.

RESULTS: A total of 1579 charts were included, demonstrating a total of 1030 EBFs, with 747 (47.3% [95% confidence interval {CI}, 44.8-49.8%]) patients demonstrating ≥ 1 EBF. Of these EBFs, 184 were classified as clinically significant (CSEBFs) and 150 (9.5% [95% CI, 8.1-11.0%]) patients had ≥ 1 CSEBF. A total of 50 unspecified masses were seen in 47 (3.0% [95% CI, 2.1-3.8%]) patients, with 8 (0.5%) representing a previously undiagnosed malignancy.

CONCLUSION: CSEBFs were seen in < 10% of ED patients undergoing comprehensive RUQ US. Nonspecific masses were seen in 3% of patients, but < 1% of patients were found to have a new malignancy.

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