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Incidental Findings in Trauma Patients During Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma

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During the initial assessment of trauma patients they usually undergo a Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma (FAST) in which there are occasionally incidental findings of other surgical conditions. In this audit we discuss the incidence, demographics, and implications of these findings and we propose a management algorithm. Within 2 years we managed 6041 trauma patients in the emergency department based on the Advanced Trauma Life Support protocols, 95 per cent of which underwent a FAST ultrasound. Incidental findings were reported in 468 patients (7.8%), whereas in a further 11.2 per cent of these patients there was a second finding. The mean age of these patients was 57.55 years (15‐105), and most of them were men (51.1%). The vast majority of the findings were related to the liver and biliary tree (52.1%) followed by the urinary track (27.1% + 8%). In multivariate analysis only the age was a significant factor associated with incidental findings (P < 0.001) whereas in univariate analysis both the gender [men (54.1%) vs women (45.9), P = 0.013] and the mechanism of trauma (P < 0.001) were as important as the age (P < 0.001). The patients who had incidental findings were 15 years older than the rest. The detection of unknown surgical conditions in FAST may lead to managerial and possible medico-legal issues rendering the development of a proper algorithm mandatory.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Second Surgical Department and Unit of Surgical Oncology, ‘‘Korgialenio–Benakio’’, Red Cross Athens General Hospital, Athens, Greece

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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