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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sonographic Scoring for Operating Room Triage in Trauma

  • Author(s): Manka, Michael
  • Moscati, Ronald
  • Raghavendran, Krishnan
  • Priya, Aruna
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Public License

Objective: The focused assessment with sonography for trauma (FAST) exam is a routine diagnostic adjunct in the initial assessment of blunt trauma victims but lacks the ability to reliably predict which patients require laparotomy. Physiologic data play a major role in decision making regarding the need for emergent laparotomy versus further diagnostic testing or observation. The need for laparotomy often influences the decision to transfer the patient to a trauma center. We set out to derive a simple scoring system using both ultrasound findings and immediately available physiologic data that would predict which patients require laparotomy.

Methods: We conducted a prospective observational study of victims of blunt trauma who presented to a Level 1 Trauma Center. We collected FAST findings, physiologic data, and lab values. A previously-developed ultrasound scoring system was applied to the FAST findings. Patients were followed to determine if they underwent laparotomy. We used logistic regression analysis to determine which variables correlated with laparotomy and developed a new scoring system.

Results: We enrolled a convenience sample of 1,393 patients. A simple scoring system (range 0-6) was developed that included both FAST findings and vital signs (heart rate and blood pressure). Patients with a score of 0 or 1 had a less than 1% chance of requiring laparotomy.

Conclusion: The combination of FAST findings with vital signs in our scoring system predicted which victims of blunt trauma did not undergo laparotomy. Applying this to trauma patients who present to non-trauma centers could help prevent unnecessary patient transfers. This derivation set must be validated prior to use in patient care. [West J Emerg Med. 2010; 11(2):138-143.]

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