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Am Surg. 1999 Jan;65(1):31-5.

Increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the evaluation of the blunt abdominal trauma patient with the use of ultrasound.

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  • 1Department of Trauma Surgery, Greenville Hospital System, South Carolina.


The efficacy and effectiveness of ultrasound (US) in evaluating patients suspected of having blunt abdominal trauma are near that of computed tomography (CT) and diagnostic peritoneal lavage (DPL). Because no cost-effectiveness study has been reported, the purpose of this study was to demonstrate that US is more efficient and cost-effective than CT/DPL in evaluating blunt abdominal trauma. Over a 9-month period, 331 patients suspected of sustaining blunt abdominal trauma were evaluated at a Level I trauma center by US, CT, and/or DPL. Cost data and time to disposition were determined for analysis. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of US were similar to those reported in previous studies. There was a significant difference in time to disposition with the US group being significantly lower (P = 0.001). The total procedural cost was 2.8 times greater for the CT/DPL group than for the US group. US is not only effective in diagnosing blunt abdominal trauma, but it is also more efficient and cost-effective than is CT/DPL.

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