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Curr Opin Crit Care. 2011 Dec;17(6):606-12. doi: 10.1097/MCC.0b013e32834be582.

Beyond focused assessment with sonography for trauma: ultrasound creep in the trauma resuscitation area and beyond.

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  • 1Division of Trauma, Acute Care and Critical Care Surgery, Department of Surgery, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA.



The use of ultrasound for the management of the injured patient has expanded dramatically in the last decade. The focused assessment with sonography for trauma (FAST) has become one of the fundamental skills incorporated into the initial evaluation of the trauma patient. However, there are significant limitations of this diagnostic modality as initially described. Novel ultrasound examinations of the injured patient, although useful, must also be considered carefully.


Increasing evidence supports the high specificity of FAST for detecting a pericardial effusion and intra-abdominal free fluid (hemorrhage) in the patient with blunt injury. On the other hand, a so-called negative FAST result still requires further diagnostic work up given its low sensitivity. Similarly, the role of FAST in penetrating abdominal trauma appears to be limited because of lower sensitivity for visceral injury compared to other modalities. Extended FAST (EFAST), that adds a focused thoracic examination, has high accuracy for the detection of pneumothorax comparable to computed tomographic scan, the significance of which is not currently known. Finally, the utility of intensivist-performed ultrasound in the ICU is expanding to limited hemodynamic assessment and facilitation of central venous catheter placement.


The indications for FAST and additional ultrasound studies in the injured patient continue to evolve. Application of sound clinical evidence will avoid unsubstantiated indications for ultrasound to creep into our clinical practice.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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