The FAST scan (focused assessment with sonography for trauma) is probably the most frequent application of bedside ultrasound with a moderate sensitivity and very high specificity. It is done as part of our trauma evaluation for blunt or penetrating chest/abdomen/back/pelvic trauma as well as in the evaluation of the unexplained hypotensive patient as part of the RUSH protocol and the patient with a possible ruptured ectopic pregnancy.
Lung ultrasound (aka thoracic US) is one of the currently most popular applications of bedside ultrasound. It was found to be more sensitive and specific than chest XRay for pleural effusion, pulmonary edema, and pneumothorax evaluation (see meta-analysis in Chest here)…. how about them apples?! There have been some recent studies suggesting that in the heat of the moment for trauma patients, the sensitivity may be slightly lower than other studies state, but it is still better than chest Xray! Not only does it take a long time to get that chest Xray done in your ED or in through your ambulatory care practice, but its more expensive than bedside limited ultrasound for the patient as well…. lets not even talk about the radiation (yes, I know, Chest Xray radiation is minimal, but it’s still radiation). The evaluation of the lungs takes no more than 3 minutes, and ultrasound machines can be found in your pocket now (should you want that kind of VERY COOL technology). US machines can also be the size of a laptop with better resolution and multiple probe capabilities – so, needless to say, its easy, portable, fast, and more accurate. Now let’s talk… Continue reading
So, this case that I just had the other day is an example of an “oldy but goody” reason why bedside ultrasound rocks, especially in the blunt trauma victim with multiple injuries. 40 year-old motorcycle helmeted driver going moderate speed was T-boned by a car and fell onto his left side. He c/o severe left leg pain and mild left lower back pain, with STABLE (and yes, I mean, stable/normal/not worrisome vitals – HR 72, RR 16, BP 148/90, O2 sat 97%RA) with a clear primary trauma survey, and a secondary that revealed a small abrasion on his cheek, no left sided chest wall tenderness, nontender abdomen, no pelvis instability, an obvious deformed open fracture of his left tibia/fibula, and left lower posterior rib cage tenderness without crepitance or bruising. An E-FAST was done… Continue reading
I call it “Da Spine Sign” (insert any accent here – trust me, its funny). So, fluid is the lover of ultrasound, right? And air is the enemy. Typically you will not see the spine passed the diaphragm when looking at your RUQ view for your FAST scan in normal patients, but oh when you do, BAM! You know there’s fluid in the thorax. Here’s an image showing exactly that, as well as a little somethin’ somethin’ in the intraperitoneal space… so, don’t forget to look above the diaphragm in your FAST scan views! By the way – it’s also called the V-Line – I like my name better 🙂