Study objective: We derive and validate clinical prediction rules to identify adult patients at very low risk for intra-abdominal injuries after blunt torso trauma.
Methods: We prospectively enrolled adult patients (>or=18 years old) after blunt torso trauma for whom diagnostic testing for intra-abdominal injury was performed. In the derivation phase, we used binary recursive partitioning to create a rule to identify patients with intra-abdominal injury who were undergoing acute intervention (including therapeutic laparotomy or angiographic embolization) and a separate rule for identifying patients with any intra-abdominal injury present. We considered only clinical variables readily available with acceptable interrater reliability. The prediction rules were then prospectively validated in a separate cohort of patients.
Results: In the derivation phase, we enrolled 3,435 patients, including 311 (9.1%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 8.1% to 10.1%) with intra-abdominal injury and 109 (35.0%; 95% CI 29.7% to 40.6%) with intra-abdominal injury requiring acute intervention. In the validation study, we enrolled 1,595 patients, including 143 (9.0%; 95% CI 7.6% to 10.5%) with intra-abdominal injury. The derived rule for patients with intra-abdominal injuries who were undergoing acute intervention consisted of hypotension, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score less than 14, costal margin tenderness, abdominal tenderness, hematuria level greater than or equal to 25 red blood cells/high powered field, and hematocrit level less than 30% and identified all 44 patients in the validation phase with intra-abdominal injury who were undergoing acute intervention (sensitivity 44/44, 100%; 95% CI 93.4% to 100%). The derived rule for the presence of any intra-abdominal injury consisted of GCS score less than 14, costal margin tenderness, abdominal tenderness, femur fracture, hematuria level greater than or equal to 25 red blood cells/high powered field, hematocrit level less than 30%, and abnormal chest radiograph result (pneumothorax or rib fracture). In the validation phase, the rule for any intra-abdominal injury present had the following test performance: sensitivity 137 of 143 (95.8%; 95% CI 91.1% to 98.4%), specificity 434 of 1,452 (29.9%; 95% CI 27.5% to 32.3%), and negative predictive value 434 of 440 (98.6%; 95% CI 97.1% to 99.5%).
Conclusion: These derived and validated clinical prediction rules can aid physicians in the evaluation of adult patients after blunt torso trauma. Patients without any of these variables are at very low risk for having intra-abdominal injury, particularly intra-abdominal injury requiring acute intervention, and are unlikely to benefit from abdominal computed tomography scanning.