Emergency department ultrasound in the evaluation of blunt abdominal trauma

Dietrich Jehle, John Guarino, Hratch Karamanoukian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


The main objective of this study was to compare bedside sonographic detection of hemoperitoneum with diagnostic peritoneal lavage/laparotomy in the patient with blunt abdominal trauma. A retrospective review was conducted of all blunt trauma patients that underwent emergency department (bedside) sonography to rule out intraperitoneal hemorrhage at a level I trauma center in 1991 to 1992. Patients were included in the study population only if (1) the results of the ultrasound examination were interpreted before any other diagnostic studies, and (2) a diagnostic peritoneal lavage (DPL) or laparotomy was performed. The ultrasound examination consisted of a single right inter/subcostal longitudinal view with the patient in the trendelenburg position performed by the emergency physician or surgeon. A real-time sector scanner with a 3.5 MHz probe was used. The presence of an anechoic (black) stripe between the liver and the right kidney (Morrison's pouch) was interpreted as a positive study, and the absence of this finding was interpreted as a negative study. A positive DPL was defined as ≥ 10 mL of gross blood or a blood cell count ≥ 100,000/mm3 in the returned lavage fluid, and a positive laparotomy as ≥ 100 mL of intraperitoneal blood. Forty-four patients met the inclusion criteria for the study. Eleven patients (24%) in this population had either a positive DPL or laparotomy. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of bedside sonography in identifying intraperitoneal hemorrhage was 81.8%, 93.9%, and 90.9%, respectively. The ultrasound study provided an answer in less than 1 minute in most patients. Therefore, it was concluded that bedside sonography is a safe, rapid, accurate screening technique in detection of hemoperitoneum in the patient with abdominal trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-346
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdominal trauma
  • DPL
  • blunt trauma
  • ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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