The value of sonography in acute trauma evaluation is generally underestimated, and the opinions are controversial.
Sonography was performed as a primary screening procedure in 400 of 750 mass casualty patients with trauma admitted to a large hospital within the first 72 hours after the 1988 Armenian earthquake. Two real-time sector scanners were used in the reception area of the hospital, and the average time spent on one patient was 4 minutes. More than 130 followup sonographic examinations were required.
Trauma-associated pathology of the abdomen and retroperitoneal space was detected in 12.8% of the patients, with 1% false negatives and no false positives.
The authors believe that sonographic screening of mass casualties is a quick and effective means for detection of abdominal and retroperitoneal injuries. Sonography should be used for this purpose more routinely to gain experience and maintain preparedness of the sonographers for screening of trauma cases in mass casualty situations.