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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Utility of a Bedside Pocket-Sized Ultrasound Device to Promptly Manage Abdominal Pain in the Emergency Department

  • Author(s): Cristina, Bongiovanni
  • Chiara, Gori
  • Benedetta, De Berardinis
  • Rossella, Marino
  • Andrea, Laghi
  • Salvatore, Di Somma
  • et al.

Introduction: Abdominal pain is a frequent reason for Emergency Department (ED) admission; it amounts for around 5–10% of all ED visits. Early assessment should focus on immediately distinguishing cases of acute abdomen that require urgent surgical intervention. The clinical localization of pain is crucial, suggesting an initial evaluation of the origin of the abdominal pain; however, imaging is often required for final diagnosis. Ultrasound (US) represents a rapid imaging modality that is readily available in the ED and does not involve radiation or contrast agent administration. A new generation of portable, battery-powered, low-cost, hand-carried ultrasound devices have become available recently; these devices can provide immediate diagnostic information in patients presenting with abdominal pain in ED.The aim of the study was to demonstrate the diagnostic usefulness of a bedside pocket-sized ultrasound (BPU) device (Vscan from General Electrics) in non-traumatic patients complaining of acute abdominal pain in a tertiary care university hospital in Italy.

Methods: Patients with acute non-traumatic abdominal pain presenting in ED were prospectively enrolled and underwent physical examination, traditional imaging and BPU.

Results: A total number of 230 patients with acute non-traumatic abdominal pain were enrolled. Overall agreement between routine standard imaging and BPU turned out to be equal for computed tomography (K=0.3) and traditional ultrasound (K=0.29). Receiver operating characteristics curve (ROC) analysis for diagnostic power of the BPU in comparison with traditional US showed an area under the curve of 0.65, sensitivity and specificity of 87.2% and 42.31% respectively.

Conclusions: Emergency use of BPU in patients with non-traumatic abdominal pain demonstrated good diagnostic performance when compared to traditional imaging, with the potential advantage of reducing costs and delay in patient final disposition.

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