Ultrasonography used by practicing clinicians has been shown to be of utility in the evaluation of time-sensitive and critical illnesses in a range of environments, including pre-hospital triage, emergency department, and critical care settings. The increasing availability of light-weight, robust, user-friendly, and low-cost portable ultrasound equipment is particularly suited for use in the physically and temporally challenging environment of a multiple casualty incident (MCI). Currently established ultrasound applications used to identify potentially lethal thoracic or abdominal conditions offer a base upon which rapid, focused protocols using hand-carried emergency ultrasonography could be developed. Following a detailed review of the current use of portable ultrasonography in military and civilian MCI settings, we propose a protocol for sonographic evaluation of the chest, abdomen, vena cava, and extremities for acute triage. The protocol is two-tiered, based on the urgency and technical difficulty of the sonographic examination. In addition to utilization of well-established bedside abdominal and thoracic sonography applications, this protocol incorporates extremity assessment for long-bone fractures. Studies of the proposed protocol will need to be conducted to determine its utility in simulated and actual MCI settings.
Keywords: Chest, abdomen, vena cava, and extremities for acute triage; Disaster; Field triage; Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma; Mass casualty incident; Pre-hospital care; Ultrasonography.