A prospective evaluation of ultrasonography for the diagnosis of penetrating torso injury

Dror Soffer, Mark G. McKenney, Stephen Cohn, Raquel Garcia-Roca, Nicholas Namias, Carl Schulman, Mauricio Lynn, Peter Lopez, Juan Asensio, R. Stephen Smith, Steven M. Steinberg, Michael D. McGonigal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background: Ultrasound (US) is commonly used for the diagnosis of hemoperitoneum after blunt abdominal trauma, but the value of US as an aid for identification of operative lesions after penetrating trauma is not well documented. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the accuracy of US for the evaluation of penetrating torso trauma and to assess the impact of this information on patient management. Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort observational study of consecutive penetrating torso patients at a Level I trauma center. Results: During the 6-month trial period, 177 victims of penetrating torso trauma were assessed by our trauma teams. Ninety-two patients had stab wounds, 84 patients had gunshot wounds, and I patient had a puncture wound. All 28 patients with positive US examination had an exploratory laparotomy or thoracotomy (one patient had more than one procedure), resulting in 26 therapeutic operations. There were 149 negative US examinations, but in this group, 36 patients underwent laparotomy or thoracotomy, and 28 had therapeutic operations. The overall accuracy of the US examination was therefore 85%, the sensitivity was 48%, and the specificity was 98%. There were only three patients who had their initial management altered by a positive US examination. Conclusion: The US examination lacks sensitivity to be used alone in determining operative intervention after gunshot or stab wounds. Rarely does US information contribute to the management of patients with penetrating abdominal injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)953-959
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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