Background: The purpose of this study was to identify which age-related groups of hemodynamically stable blunt trauma patients will present a positive cost-to-benefit ratio, in regard to the screening of incidental findings on Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma (FAST).
Methods: We conducted a prospective study using retrospective data taken from the trauma registry of 6,041 consecutive hemodynamically stable blunt trauma patients who underwent FAST at our Level I urban trauma hospital during the year 2009. A receiver operating characteristic curve was used to determine whether age level is useful in detecting organ-/system-specific incidental findings in trauma patients undergoing FAST and to establish the required diagnostic cutoff value of this selected test. A cost-benefit analysis was then performed for the age-specific cutoff values of each organ/system evaluated by FAST.
Results: We found 522 incidental findings in 468 patients (7.8%). Further diagnostic workup was instructed in 35% (168 of 468) of patients with incidental findings. The cost-benefit analysis for the age-specific cutoff values found in the receiver operating characteristic curve analysis showed that the project of screening for incidental findings on FAST was viable only when the ultrasound operator additionally searches the liver/biliary tree (≥43 years) and the kidneys (≥56 years).
Conclusions: A systematic examination of the liver and biliary tree and both kidneys of specific age groups during FAST screening of hemodynamically stable blunt trauma patients may disclose a potentially unknown pathology with a positive cost-to-benefit ratio.