Background: We hypothesize that limited transthoracic echocardiogram (LTTE) is a useful tool to guide therapy during the initial phase of resuscitation in trauma patients.
Methods: All highest-level alert patients with at least one measurement of systolic blood pressure less than 100 mm Hg, a mean arterial pressure less than 60 mm Hg, and/or a heart rate greater than 120 beats per minute who arrived to the trauma bay (TB) were randomized to have either LTTE performed (LTTEp) or not performed (non-LTTE) as part of their initial evaluation. Images were stored, and results were reported regarding contractility (good vs. poor), fluid status (empty inferior vena cava [hypovolemic] vs. full inferior vena cava [not hypovolemic]), and pericardial effusion (present vs. absent). Time from TB to operating room, intravenous fluid administration, blood product requirement, intensive care unit admission, and mortality were examined in both groups.
Results: A total of 240 patients were randomized. Twenty-five patients were excluded since they died upon arrival to the TB, leaving 215 patients in the study. Ninety-two patients were in the LTTEp group with 123 patients in the non-LTTE group. The LTTEp and non-LTTE groups were similar in age (38 years vs. 38.8 years, p = 0.75), Injury Severity Score (ISS) (19.2 vs. 19.0, p = 0.94), Revised Trauma Score (RTS) (5.5 vs. 6.0, p = 0.09), lactate (4.2 vs. 3.6, p = 0.14), and mechanism of injury (p = 0.44). Strikingly, LTTEp had significantly less intravenous fluid than non-LTTE patients (1.5 L vs. 2.5 L, p < 0.0001), less time from TB to operating room (35.6 minutes vs. 79.1 min, p = 0.0006), higher rate of intensive care unit admission (80.4% vs. 67.2%, p = 0.04), and a lower mortality rate (11% vs. 19.5%, p = 0.09). Mortality differences were particularly evident in the traumatic brain injury patients (14.7% in LTTEp vs. 39.5% in non-LTTE, p = 0.03).
Conclusion: LTTE is a useful guide for therapy in hypotensive trauma patients during the early phase of resuscitation.
Level of evidence: Therapeutic study, level II.