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Ann Surg. 2015 Aug;262(2):389-96. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000001002.

Scanning and War: Utility of FAST and CT in the Assessment of Battlefield Abdominal Trauma.

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*Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK; †202 (Midlands) Field Hospital, Roger Nutbeem House, Kings Heath, Birmingham, West Midlands, UK, and ‡NIHR Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK.



To determine utilization and accuracy of focused assessment with sonography for trauma (FAST) and computed tomography (CT) in a mature military trauma system to inform service provision for future conflicts.


FAST and CT scans undertaken by attending radiologists contribute to surgical decision making for battlefield casualties at the Joint Force, Role 3 Medical Treatment Facility at Camp Bastion (R3), Afghanistan.


Registry data for abdominally injured casualties treated at R3 from July to November 2012 were matched to radiological and surgical records to determine diagnostic accuracy for FAST and CT and their influence on casualty management.


A total of 468 casualties met inclusion criteria, of whom 85.0% underwent FAST and 86.1% abdominal CT; 159 (34.0%) had abdominal injuries. For detection of intra-abdominal injury, FAST sensitivity (Sn) was 0.56, specificity (Sp) 0.98, positive predictive value (PPV) 0.87, negative predictive value (NPV) 0.90, and accuracy (Acc) 0.89. For CT, Sn was 0.99, Sp 0.99, PPV 0.96, NPV 1.00, and Acc 0.99. Forty-six solid organ injuries were identified in 38 patients by CT; 17 were managed nonoperatively. A further 61 patients avoided laparotomy after CT confirmed extra-abdominal wounds only. The negative laparotomy rate was 3.9%.


FAST and CT contribute to triage, guide surgical management, and reduce nontherapeutic laparotomy. When imaging is available, these data challenge current doctrine about inadvisability of nonoperative management of abdominal injury after combat trauma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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