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J Pediatr Surg. 1999 Jan;34(1):44-7; discussion 52-4.

The efficacy of focused abdominal sonography for trauma (FAST) as a screening tool in the assessment of injured children.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Florida Health Science Center, Jacksonville 32209, USA.



Focused abdominal sonography for trauma (FAST) is rapidly gaining acceptance as an effective and accurate way to determine significant abdominal injury. The authors analyzed their experience in 94 children with blunt torso trauma (BTT) to assess FAST accuracy in identifying operative lesions and utility in avoiding additional diagnostic studies.


The authors' pediatric trauma registry was queried to identify all children with BTT who underwent FAST as part of their initial trauma assessment. Accuracy was determined by calculating sensitivity and specificity using as true positives those children with lesions requiring operative intervention. Utility was analyzed by reviewing the need for additional diagnostic or therapeutic intervention in those patients with negative FAST findings and negative clinical examination findings.


Three of these 94 children had lesions that required laparotomy. One was FAST positive (sensitivity, 33.3%). One of two FAST-negative patients was a child in extremis from a suspected thoracic aortic disruption, and the other was a child with an intestinal disruption in whom peritoneal signs developed 24 hours after injury. Of 89 FAST-negative children, 20 underwent abdominal computed tomography (CT) at the surgeon's request. Eight of these patients were found to have minor visceral injury that required no further treatment. The remaining 69 included the child with the aortic disruption and 68 patients whose hospital course was uneventful and required no additional intervention.


From the practical perspective of indicating need for operative intervention in BTT, FAST has a high specificity (95%); however, it is not particularly sensitive (33%). This excellent specificity in combination with clinical examination underscores FAST utility by avoiding unnecessary diagnostic intervention in 72% of the patients in this study.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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