Posttraumatic appendicitis: further extending the extended Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma examination

  • Derr C
  • Goldner D
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Several cases of appendicitis after blunt abdominal trauma have been reported in the literature. A 41-year-old man on a cruise ship began to experience acute abdominal pain several hours after cliff diving from a 20-ft height and landing hard against the water on his right side. The patient's symptoms were treated and he remained on the ship until its scheduled arrival in port 2 days later. In the emergency department, a bedside extended Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma (eFAST) examination showed no evidence of free fluid in the abdominal cavity, pericardial effusion, or pneumothorax. Next, an ultrasound of the right lower quadrant was performed, which revealed a 1.06 cm, noncompressible appendix consistent with appendicitis. Although physical examination remains the gold standard for evaluation of the acute abdomen, the presentation of acute appendicitis is historically unreliable and delays in its diagnosis can result in significant increases in morbidity and mortality. Ultrasonography has been shown to have clear value in the evaluation of the acute abdomen. It is the authors' opinion that ultrasonography may have an unrealized potential as a diagnostic tool for traumatic appendicitis in the trauma bay and as a triage tool for the cruise ship physician who must evaluate a patient with traumatic abdominal pain and determine the need for medical evacuation.

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  • Charlotte Derr

  • D. Eliot Goldner

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