Handheld ultrasound taps thoracic trauma

December 3, 2004

Handheld ultrasound beats x-ray for detecting occult pneumo-thoraces produced by severe chest trauma, according to Dr. Andrew W. Kirkpatrick and colleagues at the University of Calgary in Alberta.

Handheld ultrasound beats x-ray for detecting occult pneumo-thoraces produced by severe chest trauma, according to Dr. Andrew W. Kirkpatrick and colleagues at the University of Calgary in Alberta.

The researchers assessed 225 patients with handheld ultrasound at a local trauma center. It was equally specific but more sensitive than chest radiography in detecting post-trauma pneumothoraces, especially when they were occult.

Trauma specialists consider CT their modality of choice. Preliminary exploration of unstable patients, however, should always be done without moving them out of the resuscitation area. Sonography can be helpful and safe, according to the study published in the August issue of Trauma.