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Volume 23 Supplement 2

London Trauma Conference 2014

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Is there still a role for ultrasound in trauma?


The UK College of Emergency Medicine recommends that level 1 ultrasound competency is a basic standard for EM doctors and is now mandatory for career progression. Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma to include the detection of pleural fluid and pneumothorax (the Extended-FAST scan) forms part of this competency. We compare the diagnostic accuracy of E-FAST with the “gold standard” of CT or operative intervention. Trauma team leaders were asked to evaluate point-of-care ultrasound in their decision-making and patient management.



Royal London Hospital. The Major Trauma Centre for North East London and base for London's Air Ambulance. Approximately 2500 adult trauma cases seen per year.

Study design

Prospective observational study, comprising convenience sample of adult major trauma presenting to Royal London between October 2012-March 2013 leading to activation of a “trauma call”.

Primary outcome

To assess the diagnostic accuracy of E-FAST in the detection of haemorrhage (free fluid) and pneumothorax in major trauma.

Secondary outcome

To assess the impact of E-FAST on trauma team leader's decision-making process in major trauma care.

Reference Standard

Free fluid or pneumothorax formally reported on CT or found at time of surgical intervention


117 patients initially recruited, 45 allowed comparison to reference standard. Sensitivity, Specificity, Positive and Negative Predictive Values for E-FAST (with 95% confidence intervals) were 68.4% (43.5-87.4), 96.3% (81-99.4), 92.9% (66.1-98.8) and 81.3% (63.6-92.8) respectively. 58% of team leaders stated that ultrasound guided their decision-making.


E-FAST has limited sensitivity but high specificity when used in isolation. It influenced trauma team leader's decision-making 58% of the time, despite reported low sensitivity. The major role of ultrasound is the rapid triage of unstable patients and localization of major haemorrhage to help guide immediate life-saving intervention in this subgroup of patients. May reduce CT load in selected patients but further research needed.

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Correspondence to Jamie Moran.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Moran, J., Harris, T. & Purdell-Lewis, J. Is there still a role for ultrasound in trauma?. Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med 23 (Suppl 2), A19 (2015).

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