Quantitative sensitivity of ultrasound in detecting free intraperitoneal fluid

J Trauma. 1995 Aug;39(2):375-80. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199508000-00032.


The minimum volume of intraperitoneal fluid that is detectable in Morison's pouch with ultrasound in the trauma setting is not well defined. To evaluate this question, we used diagnostic peritoneal lavage (DPL) as a model for intraperitoneal hemorrhage and undertook a blinded prospective study of the sensitivity of ultrasound in detecting intraperitoneal fluid. Participants included attending physicians and residents in emergency medicine, radiology, and surgery. During the infusion of the DPL fluid, participants continuously scanned Morison's pouch until they detected fluid. All participants were blinded to the rate of infusion and the volume infused. One hundred patients were entered into the study. The mean volume of fluid detected was 619 mL. Only 10% of participants detected fluid volumes less than 400 mL and the overall sensitivity at one liter was 97%. We conclude that reliable detection of intraperitoneal fluid in Morison's pouch requires a greater volume than has been previously described.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Injuries / complications
  • Abdominal Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Ascitic Fluid / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ascitic Fluid / etiology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine
  • Middle Aged
  • Peritoneal Lavage
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Specialization
  • Ultrasonography
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / complications
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnostic imaging*