Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Abdominal prehospital ultrasound impacts treatment decisions in a Dutch Helicopter Emergency Medical Service

Ketelaars, Rein*; Holtslag, Jasper J.M.*; Hoogerwerf, Nico

doi: 10.1097/MEJ.0000000000000540
Original article: PDF Only

Objective The aim of this study was to determine the impact of abdominal prehospital ultrasound (PHUS) on patient care in a Dutch physician-staffed Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) and to determine its diagnostic performance.

Patients and methods We carried out a retrospective analysis of abdominal ultrasound (US) examinations performed by the HEMS of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, from January 2007 until December 2016. Data including patient demographics, type of incident, abdominal US findings, impact on treatment decisions, and the physicians’ narrative report were retrieved from the HEMS database and analyzed. PHUS diagnostic performance was compared with computed tomography scan or laparotomy.

Results Of 17 077 recorded scrambles and 8699 patients treated, 1583 underwent 1631 abdominal US examinations. After eliminating missing data, 251 impacts on treatment in 194 out of 1539 PHUS examinations were identified (12.6%, 95% confidence interval: 10.9–14.3). This affected 188 out of 1495 (12.6%) patients. The four main categories of treatment decisions impacted by PHUS were information provided to the destination hospital (45.4%); mode of transportation (23.5%); choice of destination hospital (13.1%); and fluid management (11.6%). The sensitivity of prehospital abdominal US for hemoperitoneum was 31.3%, specificity was 96.7%, and accuracy was 82.1%.

Conclusion Abdominal PHUS in our setting impacts treatment decisions significantly. Therefore, it is a valuable tool in the Dutch HEMS setting and probably beyond.

Department of Anesthesiology, Pain and Palliative Medicine, HEMS Lifeliner 3, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

*Rein Ketelaars and Jasper J.M. Holtslag contributed equally to the writing of this article.

Correspondence to Rein Ketelaars, MD, Department of Anesthesiology, Pain and Palliative Medicine, Radboud University Medical Center, 717 Geert Grooteplein-Zuid 10, 6525 GA Nijmegen, The Netherlands Tel: +31 243 614 406; fax: +31 243 613 585; e-mail:

Received July 27, 2017

Accepted December 21, 2017

Copyright © 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.