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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Emergency ultrasound-based algorithms for diagnosing blunt abdominal trauma

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, September 2015
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (92nd percentile)
  • Above-average Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (64th percentile)

Mentioned by

1 blog
24 tweeters
2 Facebook pages


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379 Mendeley
Emergency ultrasound-based algorithms for diagnosing blunt abdominal trauma
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, September 2015
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd004446.pub4
Pubmed ID

Dirk Stengel, Grit Rademacher, Axel Ekkernkamp, Claas Güthoff, Sven Mutze


Ultrasonography (performed by means of a four-quadrant, focused assessment of sonography for trauma (FAST)) is regarded as a key instrument for the initial assessment of patients with suspected blunt abdominal and thoraco-abdominal trauma in the emergency department setting. FAST has a high specificity but low sensitivity in detecting and excluding visceral injuries. Proponents of FAST argue that ultrasound-based clinical pathways enhance the speed of primary trauma assessment, reduce the number of unnecessary multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) scans, and enable quicker triage to surgical and non-surgical care. Given the proven accuracy, increasing availability of, and indication for, MDCT among patients with blunt abdominal and multiple injuries, we aimed to compile the best available evidence of the use of FAST-based assessment compared with other primary trauma assessment protocols. To assess the effects of diagnostic algorithms using ultrasonography including in FAST examinations in the emergency department in relation to the early, late, and overall mortality of patients with suspected blunt abdominal trauma. The most recent search was run on 30th June 2015. We searched the Cochrane Injuries Group Specialised Register, The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE (OvidSP), EMBASE (OvidSP), ISI Web of Science (SCI-EXPANDED, SSCI, CPCI-S, and CPSI-SSH), clinical trials registers, and screened reference lists. Trial authors were contacted for further information and individual patient data. We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Participants were patients with blunt torso, abdominal, or multiple trauma undergoing diagnostic investigations for abdominal organ injury. The intervention was diagnostic algorithms comprising emergency ultrasonography (US). The control was diagnostic algorithms without US examinations (for example, primary computed tomography (CT) or diagnostic peritoneal lavage (DPL)). Outcomes were mortality, use of CT or invasive procedures (DPL, laparoscopy, laparotomy), and cost-effectiveness. Two authors (DS and CG) independently selected trials for inclusion, assessed methodological quality, and extracted data. Methodological quality was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration risk of bias tool. Where possible, data were pooled and relative risks (RRs), risk differences (RDs), and weighted mean differences, each with 95% confidence intervals (CIs), were calculated by fixed-effect or random-effects models as appropriate. We identified four studies meeting our inclusion criteria. Overall, trials were of poor to moderate methodological quality. Few trial authors responded to our written inquiries seeking to resolve controversial issues and to obtain individual patient data. Strong heterogeneity amongst the trials prompted discussion between the review authors as to whether the data should or should not be pooled; we decided in favour of a quantitative synthesis to provide a rough impression about the effect sizes achievable with US-based triage algorithms. We pooled mortality data from three trials involving 1254 patients; the RR in favour of the FAST arm was 1.00 (95% CI 0.50 to 2.00). FAST-based pathways reduced the number of CT scans (random-effects model RD -0.52, 95% CI -0.83 to -0.21), but the meaning of this result was unclear. The experimental evidence justifying FAST-based clinical pathways in diagnosing patients with suspected abdominal or multiple blunt trauma remains poor. Because of strong heterogeneity between the trial results, the quantitative information provided by this review may only be used in an exploratory fashion. It is unlikely that FAST will ever be investigated by means of a confirmatory, large-scale RCT in the future. Thus, this Cochrane Review may be regarded as a review which provides the best available evidence for clinical practice guidelines and management recommendations. It can only be concluded from the few head-to-head studies that negative US scans are likely to reduce the incidence of MDCT scans which, given the low sensitivity of FAST (or reliability of negative results), may adversely affect the diagnostic yield of the trauma survey. At best, US has no negative impact on mortality or morbidity. Assuming that major blunt abdominal or multiple trauma is associated with 15% mortality and a CT-based diagnostic work-up is considered the current standard of care, 874, 3495, or 21,838 patients are needed per intervention group to demonstrate non-inferiority of FAST to CT-based algorithms with non-inferiority margins of 5%, 2.5%, and 1%, power of 90%, and a type-I error alpha of 5%.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 379 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 1 <1%
United States 1 <1%
Australia 1 <1%
Unknown 376 99%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 58 15%
Student > Bachelor 41 11%
Student > Postgraduate 39 10%
Researcher 38 10%
Other 33 9%
Other 82 22%
Unknown 88 23%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 194 51%
Nursing and Health Professions 21 6%
Psychology 9 2%
Social Sciences 9 2%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 7 2%
Other 34 9%
Unknown 105 28%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 22. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 28 February 2018.
All research outputs
of 18,880,385 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 11,883 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 261,889 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 257 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 18,880,385 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 93rd percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,883 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 26.7. This one has done well, scoring higher than 75% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 261,889 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 92% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 257 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 64% of its contemporaries.