The role of ultrasonography in the diagnosis and management of non-traumatic acute abdominal pain
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Our aim was to assess the effects of initial ultrasonography (US) evaluation on the diagnosis and management of non-traumatic acute abdominal pain in the emergency department. Three hundred patients with the complaint of non-traumatic acute abdominal pain who were sent for US examination with an initial clinical impression were included in the study. Pre-US and post-US surveys were designed for the clinicians who requested US. The percentage concordance of US findings with the discharge diagnosis made by clinical follow-up, imaging modalities and surgery was determined by calculating the confidence interval. The concordance of the initial clinical impression and the US diagnosis with the discharge diagnosis were compared using the McNemar test. US could not detect any pathology in 102 (34%; 95%CI, 28.6–39.3%) of the patients. The US revealed a different diagnosis than the clinical impression in 69 (23%; 95%CI, 18.2–27.7%), and confirmed the diagnosis in 121 (40%; 95%CI, 34.4–45.5%) patients. The US changed the treatment plans in 47% (95%CI, 41.3–52.6%) of the patients. The clinicians stated US helped them “very much” or “moderately” in making a diagnosis in 83% (95%CI, 78.7–87.2%). When US results were compared with the discharge diagnosis, there was concordance in 238 (79.3%; 95%CI, 74.3–83.6%) patients but not in 62 (20.6%; 95%CI, 16–25.1%). Among 121 patients the initial clinical impression agreed with the US diagnosis and there was concordance with the discharge diagnosis in 105 (86.7%; 95%CI, 80–92.7%). The concordance of US findings with the discharge diagnosis was significantly higher than that of the initial clinical impression statistically. In the initial evaluation of the patients with acute abdominal pain, US is considerably helpful in making the correct diagnosis, and that the concordance with the discharge diagnosis is high. When whole abdominal scanning is not performed, targeted US study according to the initial clinical impression decreases the clinical benefit of US.
KeywordsUltrasonography Acute abdomen Making decision Emergency department
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