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J Trauma. 2004 Aug;57(2):329-32.

Goal-directed ultrasound in the detection of long-bone fractures.

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  • 1Medical Operations, Office of Space Medicine, NASA/Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas 77058, USA.



New portable ultrasound (US) systems are capable of detecting fractures in the remote setting. However, the accuracy of ultrasound by physicians with minimal ultrasound training is unknown.


After one hour of standardized training, physicians with minimal US experience clinically evaluated patients presenting with pain and trauma to the upper arm or leg. The investigators then performed a long-bone US evaluation, recording their impression of fracture presence or absence. Results of the examination were compared with routine plain or computer aided radiography (CT).


58 patients were examined. The sensitivity and specificity of US were 92.9% and 83.3%, and of the physical examination were 78.6% and 90.0%, respectively. US provided improved sensitivity with less specificity compared with physical examination in the detection of fractures in long bones.


Ultrasound scans by minimally trained clinicians may be used to rule out a long-bone fracture in patients with a medium to low probability of fracture.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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