Free fluid in Morison's pouch on bedside ultrasound predicts need for operative intervention in suspected ectopic pregnancy

Acad Emerg Med. 2007 Aug;14(8):755-8. doi: 10.1197/j.aem.2007.04.010. Epub 2007 Jun 6.


Background: Ectopic pregnancies are frequently present in women who present to the emergency department with pregnancy and abdominal pain or bleeding, a subset of whom may require operative intervention.

Objectives: To prospectively determine if emergency physician (EP)-performed transabdominal pelvic ultrasonography (US) with determination of free abdominal fluid in the hepatorenal space predicted the need for operative intervention.

Methods: Patients who were suspected to have an ectopic pregnancy were prospectively enrolled over a ten-month period. An EP-performed bedside transabdominal pelvic US that included a view of the hepatorenal space (Morison's pouch) for free fluid. The EP US was classified as intrauterine pregnancy (IUP) or no definitive IUP, with Morison's pouch classified as positive or negative. The majority of patients had a subsequent transvaginal pelvic US performed by the Department of Radiology. Patients were followed up for radiology results, need for operative intervention, and ultimate outcome of the pregnancy.

Results: There were 242 patients enrolled, with an average time to complete the EP US of 4 minutes and 27 seconds. There were 28 ectopic pregnancies diagnosed (11.6%), of which 18 patients underwent operative intervention. Free fluid in Morison's pouch was identified in ten patients, nine of whom underwent operative intervention, yielding a positive likelihood ratio of 112 (95% confidence interval = 15 to 831) for patients with suspected ectopic pregnancy who required operative intervention.

Conclusions: Free intraperitoneal fluid found in Morison's pouch in patients with suspected ectopic pregnancy may be rapidly identified at the bedside by EP-performed US and predicts the need for operative intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / diagnosis
  • Abdominal Pain / etiology
  • Adult
  • Amniotic Fluid
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Emergency Medicine / standards
  • Emergency Medicine / trends
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Needs Assessment
  • Peritoneal Cavity / diagnostic imaging
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / surgery*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal*
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Uterine Hemorrhage / etiology