Blunt abdominal injury in the pregnant patient: Detection with US

John R Richards, Eleanor L. Ormsby, Monica V. Romo, Marijo A. Gillen, John P McGahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To determine the accuracy of ultrasonography (US) for the detection of blunt intraabdominal injury in pregnant patients and to compare differences between pregnant and nonpregnant patients of child bearing age. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective review of results of all consecutive emergency blunt trauma US examinations performed at a level 1 trauma center from January 1995 to June 2002 was conducted. Data on demographics, free fluid location, and patient outcome were collected. Injuries were determined on the basis of results of computed tomography and/or laparotomy. The Student t test was used to detect differences between continuous variables, and χ2 analysis was used to evaluate differences between proportions. RESULTS: A total of 2319 US examinations for blunt trauma were performed in girls and women between the ages of 10 and 50 years. There were 328 pregnant patients, 23 of whom had intraabdominal injury. The mean age of the pregnant patients was 24.7 years ± 6.1 (standard deviation) (age range, 14-42 years). In pregnant patients, the sensitivity of US was 61% (14 of 23 patients), the specificity was 94.4% (288 of 305 patients), and the accuracy was 92.1% (302 of 328 patients). Pregnant patients were significantly more likely to have sustained injuries from assault (odds ratio: 2.6, P < .001). The most common pattern of free fluid accumulation detected at US in pregnant patients was that of fluid in the left and right upper quadrants and pelvis (n = 4, 29%); the second most common pattern was one of isolated pelvic fluid (n = 3, 21%). CONCLUSION: For detection of intraabdominal injury, US was less sensitive in pregnant patients than in nonpregnant patients but was highly specific in both subgroups. The sensitivity of US was highest in pregnant patients during the first trimester.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-470
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Abdomen, injuries, 70.41, 80.41
  • Abdomen, US, 70.1298, 80.1298
  • Emergency radiology
  • Pregnancy, US

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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