Publication Date



BMC Emergency Medicine


BACKGROUND: The Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma (FAST) examination using conventional ultrasound has limited utility for detecting solid organ injury. Therefore, this systematic review and meta-analysis compares the performance of contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) to conventional ultrasound when used as the initial assessment for abdominal trauma prior to computed tomography (CT) imaging.

METHODS: A systematic literature search of major databases was conducted of human studies investigating the diagnostic accuracy of conventional ultrasound and CEUS occurring prior to CT imaging for abdominal trauma. The study followed the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) statement. The quality of studies was evaluated using the QUADAS-2 (Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies 2) tool. Paired pooled sensitivity and specificity between conventional ultrasound and CEUS were compared using data extracted from the eligible studies. Diagnostic odds ratio, number needed to diagnose values, and likelihood ratios were also determined.

RESULTS: Ten studies were included. More than half of the included studies demonstrated low risk of bias. Using McNemar's test to assess for paired binary observations, we found that CEUS had statistically higher sensitivity (0.933 vs. 0.559; two-tailed, P < 0.001) and specificity (0.995 vs. 0.979; two-tailed, P < 0.001) than conventional ultrasound in the setting of abdominal trauma, respectively. When divided into particular findings of clinical interest, CEUS had statistically higher sensitivity than conventional ultrasound in screening for active bleeding and injuries to all abdominal solid organs. CEUS also had superior diagnostic odds ratios, number needed to diagnose values, and likelihood ratios than conventional ultrasound.

CONCLUSION: The diagnostic value of CEUS was higher than that of conventional ultrasound for differentiating traumatic abdominal injuries when used as the initial assessment in the emergency department.


Humans, Contrast Media, Ultrasonography, Tomography, X-Ray Computed, Sensitivity and Specificity, Abdominal Injuries, Contrast-enhanced ultrasound, CEUS, Trauma, Emergency medicine



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