Objective: To determine the accuracy of physical examination and ultrasonographic evaluation performed by emergency physicians in cases of blunt abdominal trauma for the early diagnosis of intraabdominal haemorrhage. Methods: In this clinical prospective study, trauma patients were evaluated with four-quadrant ultrasonography by emergency physicians after initial stabilisation and physical examination. Diagnoses based on demographic data, physical examination and emergency physician's ultrasonography were compared with the subsequent clinical course. Results: A total of 442 patients participated in the study. The sensitivity and specificity of emergency physician's ultrasonographic examination to detect intraabdominal haemorrhage were 86 and 99%, respectively. Pre-test sensitivity and specificity of physical examination to detect intraabdominal haemorrhage were 39 and 90%, respectively. Conclusions: Physical examination was not a reliable method to detect intraabdominal haemorrhage in cases of blunt abdominal trauma. In contrast, abdominal ultrasonography performed by emergency physicians was a reliable diagnostic tool. Emergency physicians should be familiar with abdominal ultrasonographic examination, which should be routine in cases of blunt abdominal trauma. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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