SonoStudy: Is Pelvic Ultrasound necessary after negative CT in non-pregnant women? #FOAMed

In the July 2013 issue of Clinical Radiology, the authors from Harvard Medical School review 126 patient charts of non-pregnant women who had a negative abdominal/pelvic CT from 2005- 2010 who then had a pelvic ultrasound for pelvic pain. Despite the obvious question, which is “why did they get a CT and not an ultrasound in the first place?” which will not be discussed, their findings were surprising. Im not sure why, but I guess it goes to show how good multi-detector CT imaging is for these patients now. This raises the question whether a pelvic ultrasound is needed in these patients given the low yield. It would be nice if this was a multi-site study with thousands of patients to increase the power, but the numbers here cannot be ignored. Below is the abstract:


To determine the diagnostic value of pelvic ultrasound following negative abdominal/pelvic computed tomography (CT) in women presenting to the emergency room (ER) with abdominal/pelvic pain, and whether ultrasound altered clinical management in the acute-care setting.


Between January 2005 to October 2010, 126 consecutive, non-pregnant women with abdominal/pelvic pain underwent pelvic ultrasound within 24 h following negative abdominal/pelvic CT in the ER. Imaging findings/reports for the CT and ultrasound examinations, and clinical data/outcomes were recorded. The time interval between the CT and ultrasound examinations was calculated. Mean length of stay (LOS) was compared to that of age-matched controls who did not have subsequent ultrasound using the t-test.


Only 3% (four of 126 cases) of the pelvic ultrasound examinations showed positive findings, all of which were endometrial abnormalities. One patient was diagnosed with an endometrial polyp, whereas the others were lost to follow-up. In none of the four cases was the pelvic ultrasound finding relevant to the acute presentation or altered acute care. The average time between CT to ultrasound was 3 h and 4 min. Mean LOS was 22 h and 13 min for the cohort, and 16 h and 8 min for the age-matched controls, although this was not statistically significant (p = 0.29).


Immediate ultrasound re-imaging of the pelvis following negative CT in women with acute abdominal/pelvic pain yields no additional diagnostic information and does not alter acute care.


A similar study was done and published in 2011 out of NYU – abstract below:


To determine the added value of reimaging the female pelvis with ultrasound (US) immediately following multidetector CT (MDCT) in the emergent setting. CT and US exams of 70 patients who underwent MDCT for evaluation of abdominal/pelvic pain followed by pelvic ultrasound within 48 h were retrospectively reviewed by three readers. Initially, only the CT images were reviewed followed by evaluation of CT images in conjunction with US images. Diagnostic confidence was recorded for each reading and an exact Wilcoxon signed rank test was performed to compare the two. Changes in diagnosis based on combined CT and US readings versus CT readings alone were identified. Confidence intervals (95%) were derived for the percentage of times US reimaging can be expected to lead to a change in diagnosis relative to the diagnosis based on CT interpretation alone. Ultrasound changed the diagnosis for the ovaries/adnexa 8.1% of the time (three reader average); the majority being cases of a suspected CT abnormality found to be normal on US. Ultrasound changed the diagnosis for the uterus 11.9% of the time (three reader average); the majority related to the endometrial canal. The 95% confidence intervals for the ovaries/adnexa and uterus were 5-12.5% and 8-17%, respectively. Ten cases of a normal CT were followed by a normal US with 100% agreement across all three readers. Experienced readers correctly diagnosed ruptured ovarian cysts and tubo-ovarian abscesses (TOA) based on CT alone with 100% agreement. US reimaging after MDCT of the abdomen and pelvis is not helpful: (1) following a normal CT of the pelvic organs or (2) when CT findings are diagnostic and/or characteristic of certain entities such as ruptured cysts and TOA. Reimaging with ultrasound is warranted for (1) less-experienced readers to improve diagnostic confidence or when CT findings are not definitive, (2) further evaluation of suspected endometrial abnormalities. A distinction should be made between the need for immediate vs. follow-up imaging with US after CT.
One reason for reviewing this is that women may feel uncomfortable with this procedure. Recently there was a lawsuit filed stating a transvaginal US felt like “rape” – take care in your technique. I dont know any specifics of the case, but saw the news report and hoping more info comes.

SonoStudy: Bedside ultrasound improves patient satisfaction! @nobleultrasound #FOAMed

In the era of patient satisfaction, report cards, and bonus structure changes all based on patient surveys, in the August 2013 issue of Journal of Emergency Medicine, Drs. Zoe Howard (prior Stanford ultrasound fellow – oh yeah!), Vicki Noble (a guru of bedside US and one of the most fantastic people I know), along with other superstars performed a study that actually tried to keep some variables that would otherwise sway the results, as standard as possible. These include length of stay and chief complaints.

The authors state it best :”Patient satisfaction is becoming increasingly important as a marker of health care quality. As many hospitals grade physician performance and base reimbursement on patient satisfaction scores, clinical interventions that improve these ratings have become increasingly important. In addition to it being a marker of ED service and performance, there is evidence that patient satisfaction is associated with greater medical compliance, willingness to return or recommend the ED to others, and decreased litigation 1234. That decreased length of stay (LOS) improves patient satisfaction is both intuitive and supported by the literature (5). Three previous studies have reported high patient satisfaction with bedside ultrasound. A Swedish study showed that on leaving the ED, patients with acute abdominal pain who underwent EUS had a small but significant increase in satisfaction compared with those who did not (6). Another study showed comparably high overall patient satisfaction for both EP-performed and radiologist-performed ultrasound compared to no EUS (7). Finally, a small study of patients who presented to the ED with threatened miscarriage also showed higher satisfaction when EUS was used in their evaluation. These women also had increased confidence in their physician’s diagnosis (8).”

So, what does this all mean? Do it, and do it more – they like it!

The authors study abstract below:



Bedside ultrasound (US) is associated with improved patient satisfaction, perhaps as a consequence of improved time to diagnosis and decreased length of stay (LOS).


Our study aimed to quantify the association between beside US and patient satisfaction and to assess patient attitudes toward US and perception of their interaction with the clinician performing the examination.


We enrolled a convenience sample of adult patients who received a bedside US. The control group had similar LOS and presenting complaints but did not have a bedside US. Both groups answered survey questions during their emergency department (ED) visit and again by telephone 1 week later. The questionnaire assessed patient perceptions and satisfaction on a 5-point Likert scale.


Seventy patients were enrolled over 10 months. The intervention group had significantly higher scores on overall ED satisfaction (4.69 vs. 4.23; mean difference 0.46; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.17-0.75), diagnostic testing (4.54 vs. 4.09; mean difference 0.46; 95% CI 0.16-0.76), and skills/abilities of the emergency physician (4.77 vs. 4.14; mean difference 0.63; 95% CI 0.29-0.96). A trend to higher scores for the intervention group persisted on follow-up survey.


Patients who had a bedside US had statistically significant higher satisfaction scores with overall ED care, diagnostic testing, and with their perception of the emergency physician. Bedside US has the potential not only to expedite care and diagnosis, but also to maximize satisfaction scores and improve the patient-physician relationship, which has increasing relevance to health care organizations and hospitals that rely on satisfaction surveys.

SonoStudy: Right subcostal diaphragm view to confirm ETT placement #FOAMed

In the Apr 2013 issue of Int J Crit Illn Inj Science, the authors from Iran attempt to identify the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and accuracy of the right subcostal diaphragm view in the immediately paralyzed and intubated patient to confirm endotracheal intubation (versus esophageal intubation). This study comes from prior studies done suggesting that by visualizing diaphragm movement with ventilation or BVM, you can ascertain that the ET tube was placed in the trachea and not the esophagus. This adds to the growing number of studies that also discusses visualization of the lung sliding sign after intubation to confirm endotracheal intubation, and the ease at which you can identify the tube in the trachea and the esophagus upon trans-jugular notch view and identification of the ring down artifact through the trachea or a tube shadow beyond the esophagus, respectively.

To view a prior post on airway US and ETT placement confirmation, go here. For a fun airway guided talk by Ultrasound Podcast on it all, go here, and here.

So, after you intubate – look over the jugular notch for the ring down artifact through the trachea with the absence of esophageal shadow, then look for lung sliding on both sides of the chest with BVM or ventilation (this can also assess for pneumothorax prior to intubation), then look at the diaphragm for movement with ventilation post intubation. None will show you exactly where the end of the ET tube is, but you’ll know that youre not in the esophagus with good confidence – especially if your capnography isnt accurate due to post- cardiac arrest and your Xray machine/tech is busy or in the bathroom.

The abstract is below:


To assess the sensitivity and specificity of right subcostal ultrasound view to confirm correct endotracheal tube intubation (ETT).

Materials and Methods:

In this prospective study, apneic or paralyzed patients who had an indication of intubation were selected. Intubation and ventilation with bag were performed by the skilled third-year emergency medicine residents. The residents, following a brief training course of ultrasonography, interpreted the diaphragm motion, and identified either esophageal or tracheal intubation. The confirmation of ETT placement was done by the sonographer. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy were calculated for tracheal versus esophageal intubation.


A total of 57 patients aged 59 ± 5 who underwent ETT insertion were studied. Thirty-four of them were male (60%). Ultrasound correctly identified 11 out of 12 esophageal intubations for a sensitivity of 92% (95% CI = 62-100), but misidentified one esophageal intubation as tracheal. Sonographers correctly identified 43 out of 45 (96%) tracheal intubations for a specificity of 96% (95% CI = 85-99), but misdiagnosed two tracheal intubations as esophageal.


This study suggests that diaphragm motion in right subcostal ultrasound view is an effective adjunct to diagnose ETT place in patients undergoing intubation in emergency department.

Likely the best description from the article is below:”…Studies have shown that ultrasound can diagnose paralyzed diaphragm.[16,17] Therefore, it seems practical to detect diaphragm motion during the positive-pressure ventilation by using ultrasound imaging of it. Hsieh, et al. studied the use of diaphragm motion for confirmation of ETT correct placement on 59 children in prenatal intensive care unit (PICU) setting. They diagnosed all intubations correctly with ultrasound imaging with sensitivity and specificity of 100%; however, they had only two esophageal intubations.[25] Kerrey, et al.[26] used diaphragm motion view of ultrasound in confirmation of correct ETT placement in 66 children in PICU. They evaluated the diagnosis of right main bronchus intubation. In their study, the sensitivity and specificity were 88% and 64%, respectively. Although sensitivity and specificity of the ultrasound in our study were high, we cannot strongly state that the ultrasound is a sensitive and specific method, because the confidence interval for sensitivity and specificity were rather wide. Studies have identified the intubation of the right main bronchus using diaphragm motion or observation of the lung sliding sign by placing the probe in the left side of the chest; however, left side of the chest is not as good as the right side for seeing the diaphragm motion.[22,26] If the patient is paralyzed or apneic, it would be suitable to evaluate the diaphragm motion in the right side of the chest to diagnose the esophageal intubation.”

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SonoStudy: Ultrasound of heart and lungs identify preeclamptic pregnant patients at risk

In anesthesiology literature (not yet on pubmed), heart and lung ultrasound has entered the mix to identify pregnant patients at risk for respiratory failure – looking for hypocontractile heart and B lines! Oh yeah! It has received a lot of press, see here, here and here :

“Chicago — (March 18, 2014)

An ultrasound of the lungs could help doctors quickly determine if a pregnant woman with preeclampsia is at risk for respiratory failure, suggests preliminary research published in the April issue of Anesthesiology.

About 60,000 women worldwide die as a result of preeclampsia, which causes severely high blood pressure. Potential complications include stroke, bleeding and excess fluid in the lungs – called pulmonary edema – which can lead to respiratory failure.  The study suggests a lung ultrasound can help doctors easily learn whether a woman with preeclampsia is suffering from pulmonary edema and ensure she receives the correct treatment.

“Lung Ultrasound is fast, safe, noninvasive and easy to use,” said Marc Leone, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and vice chair of the department of anesthesiology and critical care medicine, Hopital Nord, Marseille, France. “We found it allowed us to quickly assess whether a woman with preeclampsia had pulmonary edema and confirm the severity of the condition.”

Doctors often measure urine output to determine if a woman needs fluid administration, but the results are wrong about half of the time. “Lung ultrasound enables the medical team to identify which women really need the fluid treatment,” noted Dr. Zieleskiewicz, the study’s  first author.

Pulmonary edema is typically caused by heart failure, but also can be caused by lung inflammation. Researchers analyzed the use of lung ultrasounds, which can assess lung  edema, are easier to use than cardiac ultrasound and can be performed with devices commonly found in maternity wards. Lung ultrasound highlights white lines mimicking comet tails, irradiating from the border of the lungs. These lines are the reflection of water in the lungs.  The detection of three or more lines strongly suggests the diagnosis of pulmonary edema.

Researchers performed both cardiac and lung ultrasounds before and after delivery in 20 women with severe preeclampsia.  Five of the 20 women (25 percent) had pulmonary edema prior to delivery according to lung ultrasound, while four (20 percent) had the condition according to the cardiac ultrasound. The lung ultrasound identified a patient with non-cardiac pulmonary edema, which the cardiac ultrasound did not detect.

The test results could help ensure that pregnant women with pulmonary edema not be given intravenous or excess fluids, which worsens the condition and can lead to respiratory failure.  Typically, women with pulmonary edema are treated with oxygen and medication to lower the blood pressure or rid the body of excess fluid.  In real time, lung ultrasound also serves to observe improvement or worsening of pulmonary edema.”

SonoCase: Thoracic aortic aneurysms – and a review of the literature #FOAMed

Thoracic aortic aneurysms are much less common than abdominal aortic aneurysms. And, to top it off, the measurements of the thoracic aorta are different than the abdominal aorta, especially in the ascending thoracic aorta. It’s good to know how to look at the thoracic aorta when you need to, and what the normal measurements are so that you can make that immediate decision when a thoracic aneurysm (or dissection) is detected.

Drs. Daignault, Saul, and Lewiss published 2 great case reports in the Journal of EM Aug 2013 issue (subscription needed) on thoracic aortic aneurysms. One patient was a 60 year old male who had blunt trauma to his back by a heavy piece of plaster while at work. He had a BP of 140/80 mm Hg and HR of 90 beats/min. The FAST was negative for free fluid but the aortic root was found to be 5.49cm. This caused them to order a CT angio confirming their findings.  Another patient was an 82 year old male with 1 month of chest pain radiating to his back with history of aortic valve repair and HTN on coumadin. BP was 210/90 mm Hg. A bedside echo was performed and showed descending thoracic aorta aneurysm measuring 4.82cm.  This had a CT Angio done confirming descending thoracic aneurysm.  The abstract is found here, and a prior post on these case reports can be found here.

These cases bring up an excellent reason to review the thoracic aorta. The best cardiac echo view to see visualize the thoracic aorta, if you could only pick one, would be the parasternal long view.

According to a german study where they looked at the thoracic aorta throughout life from 17 to 89 yrs of age  via helical CT with the following methods and results: “Methods: Seventy adults, 17 to 89 years old, without any signs of cardiovascular disease were investigated with helical computed tomography. Aortic diameters were measured at seven predefined thoracic levels. Results: Aortic diameters (mean ± SD) were 2.98 ± 0.46 cm at the aortic valve sinus, 3.09 ± 0.41 cm at the ascending aorta, 2.94 ± 0.42 cm proximal to the innominate artery, 2.77 ± 0.37 cm at the proximal transverse arch, 2.61 ± 0.41 cm at the distal transverse arch, 2.47 ± 0.40 cm at the isthmus, and 2.43 ± 0.35 cm at the diaphragm. Men had slightly longer diameters than did women. All diameters increased with age. There was no influence of weight, height, or body surface area.”

More recently, Medscape authors state that the thoracic aorta dimensions are larger than the abdominal aorta dimensions and that aneursymal definition occurs when it is greater than 50% of the normal size.

Another study in the radiology literature with many more subjects more recently, had the following methods and results: “Methods: 1442 consecutive subjects who were referred for evaluation of possible coronary artery disease underwent coronary CT angiography (CTA) and coronary artery calcium scanning (CACS) (55+11 years, 65% male) without known coronary heart disease, hypertension, chronic pulmonary and renal disease, diabetes and severe aortic calcification. The ascending aortic diameter, descending aortic diameter (DAOD), pulmonary artery (PAD) and chest anterioposterior diameter (CAPD), posterior border of sternal bone to anterior border of spine, were measured at the slice level of mid right pulmonary artery by using end systolic trigger image. The volume of four chambers, ejection fraction of left ventricle, and cardiac output were measured in 56% of the patients. Patients demographic information, age, gender, weight, height and body surface area (BSA), were recorded. The mean value and age specific and gender adjusted upper normal limits (mean + 2 standard deviations) were calculated. The linear correlation analysis was done between AAOD and all parameters. The reproducibility, wall thickness and difference between end systole and diastole were calculated. Result: AAOD has significant linear association with age, gender, descending aortic diameter and pulmonary artery diameter (P<0.05). There is no significant correlation between AAOD and body surface area, four chamber volume, LVEF, CO and CAPD. The mean Intra-luminal AAOD was 31.1 ± 3.9mm and 33.6 ± 4.1 mm in females and males respectively. The upper normal limits (mean + 2 standard deviations) of Intra-luminal AAOD, mean+ standard deviation, was 35.6, 38.3 and 40 mm for females and 37.8, 40.5 and 42.6 mm for males in age group 20 to 40, 41 to 60, above 60 year respectively. Intra-luminal should parallel echocardiography and invasive angiography. Traditional cross sectional imaging (with computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging) includes the vessel wall. The mean total AAOD was 33.5mm and 36.0 mm in females and males respectively. The upper normal limits (mean + 2 standard deviations) of Intra-luminal AAOD, mean+ standard deviation, was 38.0, 40.7 and 42.4 mm for females and 40.2, 42.9 and 45.0 mm for males in age group 20 to 40, 41 to 60, above 60 year respectively. The inter and intra observer, scanner and repeated measurement variability was low (R value >0.91, P<0.001, coefficient variation <3.2%). AAOD was 1.7 mm less in end-diastole than end systole(P<0.001).” Below is their table illustrating the various measurements by others:

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As Dr Lewiss and colleagues state in their case reports, “The most recent consensus statement by the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) recognized that the thoracic aortic pathology can be identified on EP-performed focused cardiac ultrasound (3). Transthoracic echocardiography was shown to be consistent with TEE for measurement of the ascending aorta (21). Taylor et al. demonstrated that EP-performed focused cardiac ultrasound was consistent with CTA measurements for maximal thoracic aortic diameter (2). In these cases, an EP with considerable experience in ultrasound performed these studies, but many EP are trained in the use of focused ultrasound for evaluation of the abdominal aorta. Principals used in this application, such as avoiding measurements in oblique planes, measuring from outer wall to outer wall (for the descending thoracic aorta), and the use of Doppler also may be utilized in the evaluation of the thoracic portion of the aorta.”

SonoCase: 46yo c/o abdominal pain h/o cocaine use – sup mesenteric art dissection #FOAMed

Drs. Davis and Kendall write up a very interesting case in the Aug 2013 issue of Journal of EM where the ultrasound made the diagnosis, quite easily too. They discuss a 46 year old male with a history of current cocaine use AND a prior history of an aortic dissection, of course, who was complaining of sudden onset of abdominal pain and found to be severely hypertensive. The diagnosis on the top of their list was aortic dissection/aneurysm/rupture – and when they looked, they saw even more. Below is the abstract:


A timely diagnosis of aortic dissection is associated with lower mortality. The use of emergent bedside ultrasound has been described to diagnose aortic dissection. However, there is limited literature regarding the use of bedside ultrasound to identify superior mesenteric artery dissection, a known high-risk feature of aortic dissection.


Our aim was to present a case of superior mesenteric artery dissection identified by bedside ultrasound and review the utility of bedside ultrasound in the diagnosis of aortic emergencies.

Case Report

We report a case of superior mesenteric artery dissection found on emergent bedside ultrasound in a 46-year-old male complaining of abdominal pain with a history of cocaine abuse and prior aortic dissection. Bedside ultrasound in the emergency department revealed an intimal flap in the descending aorta with extension into the superior mesenteric artery prompting early surgical consultation before computed tomography because of concern for acute mesenteric ischemia.


Superior mesenteric artery dissection is a high-risk feature of aortic dissection and can be identified with emergent bedside ultrasound.

Just one of their images is displayed below – but take a look at the video in JEM to truly see the awesomeness. A subscription and password is required, but it’s a great journal with lots of cool ultrasound cases published almost every month.

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SonoOpinion: Does absence of cardiac activity predict resuscitation failure? #FOAMed

In a post in Annals of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Brian Cohn from Washington School of Medicine gave his opinion and reviewed a few articles on cardiac activity and its relation to return of spontaneous circulation.

Does the Absence of Cardiac Activity on Ultrasonography Predict Failed Resuscitation in Cardiac Arrest?

Take-Home Message:

The absence of cardiac activity on ultrasonography does not universally lead to failure of resuscitation in cardiac arrest.

So, it doesnt surprise me, but I would ask this question though: How many with no cardiac activity on bedside ultrasound (no wall motion and no valvular activity) have survived to hospital discharge?  none. I have posted on this before, so you know my opinion already, which is: continue for organ donation purposes, otherwise no resources are needed to be used due to no survival potential. I know, it’s tough to think (and do) that.


Data Sources

MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library were searched on February 23, 2011, and again on January 29, 2012. The references of relevant articles were searched for any additional studies. Expert contact, a screening of gray literature, and a review of conference proceedings were also conducted.

Study Selection

Studies in which a clinician performed bedside transthoracic cardiac ultrasonography in adult patients receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and in which the outcome was reported, were selected for further review. Two reviewers assessed the selected articles for inclusion, with disagreement settled by consensus.

Data Extraction and Synthesis

Studies were critically appraised with 8 of the original 14 criteria of the Quality Assessment Tool for Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS)1 that were believed to be relevant to the selected studies.


Of 2,539 articles screened, 12 were selected for full review. Four of these did not meet inclusion criteria. The 8 articles in the final analysis included 568 patients, of whom 378 had no cardiac activity present on ultrasonography. The random-effects pooled results for sensitivity and specificity of bedside cardiac ultrasonography as a predictor of return of spontaneous circulation were 92% (95% confidence interval [CI] 85% to 96%) and 80% (95% CI 76% to 84%), respectively. The positive likelihood ratio was 4.3 (95% CI 2.6 to 6.9) and the negative likelihood ratio was 0.2 (95% CI 0.1 to 0.3). Of 378 patients without cardiac activity present, 9 (2.4%; 95% CI 1.3% to 4.5%) achieved return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) (Table).

Pooled outcomes from the 8 included trials.
Cardiac activity observed on ultrasonography 98 92
No cardiac activity observed on ultrasonography 9 369


Given the low likelihood of survival in cardiac arrest patients presenting to the emergency department without a pulse, as low as 0.9% in one large database,2 efforts have been made to identify predictors of futility in ongoing resuscitation, including cardiac standstill on ultrasonography. In one survey of graduates from the LA County/USC Medical Center residency program, 68% reported using ultrasonography during cardiac arrest, and 91% of these reported using the results in deciding when to terminate resuscitation efforts.3

This systematic review yielded a survival to admission rate of 2.4% in patients with cardiac standstill. Although these results seem to indicate that resuscitation in such patients is not futile, longer-term outcomes should be considered. In previous resuscitation research, survival to hospital admission has proven to be a poor surrogate for survival to hospital discharge or neurologic outcomes.4 The Research Working Group of the American Heart Association Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee has recommended evaluating survival at 90 days coupled with neurologic assessment by modified Rankin Scale or Cerebral Performance Categories score.5 The current evidence does not support using ultrasonography alone to predict outcomes in cardiac arrest patients.


    1. Whiting PF , Weswood ME , Rutjes AW , et al.  Evaluation of QUADAS, a tool for the quality assessment of diagnostic accuracy studies . BMC Med Res Methodol . 2006;6:e9

    1. McNally B , Robb R , Mehta M , et al. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest surveillance—Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES), United States, October 1, 2005-December 31, 2010 . MMWR Surveill Summ . 2011;60:1–19

    1. Shoenberger JM , Massopust K , Henderson SO . The use of bedside ultrasound in cardiac arrest . Cal J Emerg Med . 2007;8:47–50

    1. Gueugniaud PY , Mols P , Goldstein P , et al.  A comparison of repeated high doses and repeated standard doses of epinephrine for cardiac arrest outside the hospital (European Epinephrine Study Group) . N Engl J Med . 1998;339:1595–1601

  1. Becker LB , Aufderheide TP , Geocadin RG , et al. American Heart Association Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee; Council on Cardiopulmonary, Critical Care, Perioperative and Resuscitation   Primary outcomes for resuscitation science studies: a consensus statement from the American Heart Association . Circulation . 2011;124:2158–2177

SonoStudy: Contrast Enhanced Ultrasound – the future for trauma assessment? #FOAMed

In a recent article in Critical Ultrasound Journal from July 2013, the authors (Italians, of course! – they always do things ahead of everyone!) discuss the utility of contrast enhancement for solid organ evaluation in trauma patients. So, the FAST scan will assess for free fluid from injury, but we dont know what that injury is through a simple FASt scan. With contrast, we can better visualize the solid organs and assess for injury. The authors say it best, “Computed Tomography (CT) is the standard reference in the emergency for evaluating the patients with abdominal trauma. Ultrasonography (US) has a high sensitivity in detecting free fluid in the peritoneum, but it does not show as much sensitivity for traumatic parenchymal lesions. The use of Contrast-Enhanced Ultrasound (CEUS) improves the accuracy of the method in the diagnosis and assessment of the extent of parenchymal lesions. Although the CEUS is not feasible as a method of first level in the diagnosis and management of the polytrauma patient, it can be used in the follow-up of traumatic injuries of abdominal parenchymal organs (liver, spleen and kidneys), especially in young people or children.”

The thing to keep in mind is that this is actually not new – but evolving and getting spoken about more and more – as the authors state: “The first results in the literature indicates the use of CEUS in patients with blunt abdominal trauma after the FAST (Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma) or the US, in hemodynamically stable patients with a history of low-energy trauma [1,4,6]. CT is reserved in cases of severe trauma, with clinical suspicion of multiorgan lesions and cases with inconclusive CEUS [6].”

How does contrast work sonographically? Read on : “The contrast agents eco-amplifiers are able to modify the acoustic impedance of tissues, interacting with ultrasound beams and increasing the echogenicity of the blood. The contrast media (CM) ultrasound (USCA, UltraSound Contrast Agent) consist of microbubbles containing inert gases and surrounded by membrane stabilizers. The power of echogenic microbubbles and acoustic impedance depends on the size of the microbubbles. The microbubbles, unlike the tissues and the free gas, are not simply passive reflectors, but expand and compress in response to the stages of compression and rarefaction of the acoustic wave, with increasingly large hikes in diameter. The non-linear oscillation of microbubbles determines the emission of frequencies of said second harmonic with a frequency which is twice the insonation. Through the use of specific software, low acoustic pressures and an algorithm of specific processing, it is possible to selectively display the signals from the CM, separating the signal of the microbubbles from the one regarding the tissue. This particular signal is identified in real time by means of two main algorithms: Pulse Inversion (PI) and Contrast Pulse Sequence (CPS) [7,8]“

Here are some images from the authors in the article that makes the point:

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The conclusion? What to make of all of this?: “In the low-energy trauma and in hemodynamically stable patients, the US can be used as a first-level examination; when US detect intra-abdominal fluid CT examination is need. In the high-energy trauma the use of US as first line diagnostic is superfluous and damaging and the use of CT without and with i.v.c onstrast material is imperative. In order to reduce the radiation dose, particularly in young people or children, CEUS has an important role in the follow-up of conservatively treated traumatic injuries of the abdominal parenchymatous organs (liver, spleen and kidneys) diagnosed by CT [39,40]“

Read the article to get even more details on how the future of ultrasound will be, hopefully…here.

SonoStudy: Ultrasound differentiating perforated from non-perforated appendicitis #FOAMed #FOAMus

In a study published in AJR, a very hot topic was reviewed. 2 centers. 160 kids. Ultrasound and appendectomy with comparison to operative report. Do I have your attention now? This is a tough one, ultrasound for appendicitis is being recommended by pediatricians, radiologists, emergency physicians and surgeons. A big limitation was thought that ultrasound is not great for differentiating perforated from non-perforated appendicitis…. in addition to other limitations including bowel gas scatter limiting view of the entire appendix, and variations in appendix size that may have a false positive for appendicitis if diameter size alone is used as the indicator. Well, it isnt perfect – we know that.

Now, to review, appendicitis is diagnosed by applying the linear (or curvilinear if added depth is needed) probe to the area where the patient points to noting maximal pain, with the indicator toward the patient’s right side. Graded compression is then performed in that region which should displace and flatten bowel, identifying the psoas muscle and the transverse view of the iliac vessels. The appendix usually is located just anterior to these structures coming off of the cecum, and is normally compressible without being more than 6mm in diameter. It may be in its transverse or longitudinal view depending on anatomy. The entire appendix should be viewed, including to its tip. Be sure to view it in two orthogonal planes (rotate probe 90 degrees) to ensure it is the appendix, as a lymph node may look very similar to a transverse appendix but will not elongate into a tubular structure when viewed in its longitudinal plane. Here are some views of a positive appendicitis (absence of compressibility with attempts, dilated appendix):


Appendicitis by Ultrasound: A greater than 6mm in diameter, aperistaltic, non-compressible appendix +/- appendecolith.

Ultrasound Podcast posted a great video a year ago on the “how-to” for appendix ultrasound and why to go to ultrasound first in the work up of appendicitis:

Let’s go back to the study:

“OBJECTIVE. Acute appendicitis is the most common condition requiring emergency surgery in children. Differentiation of perforated from nonperforated appendicitis is important because perforated appendicitis may initially be managed conservatively whereas nonperforated appendicitis requires immediate surgical intervention. CT has been proved effective in identifying appendiceal perforation. The purpose of this study was to determine whether perforated and nonperforated appendicitis in children can be similarly differentiated with ultrasound.

MATERIALS AND METHODS. This retrospective study included 161 consecutively registered children from two centers who had acute appendicitis and had undergone ultra-sound and appendectomy. Ultrasound images were reviewed for appendiceal size, appearance of the appendiceal wall, changes in periappendiceal fat, and presence of free fluid, abscess, or appendicolith. The surgical report served as the reference standard for determining whether perforation was present. The specificity and sensitivity of each ultrasound finding were determined, and binary models were generated.

RESULTS. The patients included were 94 boys and 67 girls (age range, 1-20 years; mean, 11 ± 4.4 [SD] years) The appendiceal perforation rate was significantly higher in children younger than 8 years (62.5%) compared with older children (29.5%). Sonographic findings associated with perforation included abscess (sensitivity, 36.2%; specificity, 99%), loss of the echogenic submucosal layer of the appendix in a child younger than 8 years (sensitivity, 100%; specificity, 72.7%), and presence of an appendicolith in a child younger than 8 years (sensitivity, 68.4%; specificity, 91.7%).

CONCLUSION. Ultrasound is effective for differentiation of perforated from nonperforated appendicitis in children.”

Interestingly, a multi-organizational group came together for guidelines published in a study in Pediatric Emergency Care. : abstract below:

“The objective of this study was to compare usage of computed tomography (CT) scan for evaluation of appendicitis in a children’s hospital emergency department before and after implementation of a clinical practice guideline focused on early surgical consultation before obtaining advanced imaging.


A multidisciplinary team met to create a pathway to formalize the evaluation of pediatric patients with abdominal pain. Computed tomography scan utilization rates were studied before and after pathway implementation.


Among patients who had appendectomy in the year before implementation (n = 70), 90% had CT scans, 6.9% had ultrasound, and 5.7% had no imaging. The negative appendectomy rate before implementation was 5.7%. In patients undergoing appendectomy in the postimplementation cohort (n = 96), 48% underwent CT, 39.6% underwent ultrasound, and 15.6% had no imaging. The negative appendectomy rate was 5.2%. We demonstrated a 41% decrease in CT use for patients undergoing appendectomy at our institution without an increase in the negative appendectomy rate or missed appendectomy. The results were even more striking when comparing the rate of CT scan use in the subset of patients undergoing appendectomy without imaging from an outside hospital. In these patients, CT scan utilization decreased from 82% to 20%, a 76% reduction in CT use in our facility after protocol implementation.


Implementation of a clinical evaluation pathway emphasizing examination, early surgeon involvement, and utilization of ultrasound as the initial imaging modality for evaluation of abdominal pain concerning for appendicitis resulted in a marked decrease in the reliance on CT scanning without loss of diagnostic accuracy.”

Why talk about this? Well, there is ALWAYS, always, ALWAYS press about how ultrasound can and should be used for appendicitis evaluation in pediatric patient for radiation exposure minimization. It does have false negatives and false positives though – as with all thing ultrasound, you must know it’s strengths and weaknesses….and correlate clinically :)

SonoStudy: Ultrasound for shoulder dislocation – Dx to anesthesia & reduction #FOAMed #FOAMus

A recent study in Annals of Emergency Medicine (found on pubmed too) discusses the use of ultrasound for assessing shoulder dislocation and reduction. Yup, that’s right – no need for that Xray – unless you are concerned about a fracture. But, when you have a patient with a history of shoulder dislocation saying, “it’s out again” then dont get that Xray – before or after your reduction – just use ultrasound. It’s quick and easy and can also be used for joint injections for anestheisa too. Dr. Mike Stone showed a great video of this too – 2 docs competing to see who finishes the assessment, anesthesia and reduction the quickest – guess who won….

Diagnostic Accuracy of Ultrasonographic Examination in the Management of Shoulder Dislocation in the Emergency Department

Study objective

Emergency physicians frequently encounter shoulder dislocation in their practice. The objective of this study is to assess the diagnostic accuracy of ultrasonography in detecting shoulder dislocation and confirming proper reduction in patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with possible shoulder dislocation. We hypothesize that ultrasonography could be a reliable alternative for pre- and postradiographic evaluation of shoulder dislocation.


This was a prospective observational study. A convenience sample of patients suspected of having shoulder dislocation was enrolled in the study. Ultrasonography was performed before and after reduction procedure with a 7.5- to 10-MHz linear transducer. Shoulder dislocation was confirmed by taking radiographs in 3 routine views as a criterion standard. The operating characteristics of ultrasonography to detect dislocation in patients with possible shoulder dislocation and to confirm reduction in patients with definitive dislocation were calculated as the primary endpoints.


Seventy-three patients were enrolled. The ultrasonography did not miss any dislocation. The results of ultrasonography and radiography were identical and the sensitivity of ultrasonography in detection of shoulder dislocation was 100% (95% confidence interval 93.4% to 100%). The sensitivity of ultrasonography for assessment of complete reduction of the shoulder joint reached 100% (95% confidence interval 93.2% to 100%) in our study as well.


We suggest that ultrasonography be performed in all patients who present to the ED with a clinical impression of shoulder dislocation on admission time. The results of this study provide promising preliminary support for the ability of ultrasonography to detect shoulder dislocation. However, further investigation is necessary to validate the results and assess the ability of ultrasonography in detecting fractures associated with dislocation.

To view Dr. Mike Stone’s lecture on shoulder dislocation diagnosed by ultrasound, view below:

For another great post of shoulder shrugging – see broomedocs site here!

ACEP News in 2/2014 had an article on shoulder dislocation by ultrasound – go here.