Role of Ultrasound in Mass‐Casualty Situations

Kenneth Dittrich, Fikri M. ABU‐ZIDAN

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Ultrasound has been accepted as an important initial screening tool for diagnosing severely traumatized patients. The discovery of free fluid in the abdomen and chest can lead to appropriate and timely definitive care. Mass trauma in disasters may occur in remote places where routine radiological diagnostic tools are not available. The portability, small size, light weight, improved quality and low price are advantages of the new hand-held portable ultrasound machines. Focused Assessment Sonography for Trauma (FAST) can be used as a quick adjuvant method for triaging patients. It accurately, and rapidly provides objective information on injured victims, which ultimately aids in assessment, triage and allocation of resources. Furthermore, it can be repeated during transportation. Satellite and mobile wireless transmission of FAST has also been tested using hand-held units. Interpretation of these images was correct in more than 90% of the studied cases. These new developments in technology have a tremendous potential in disaster situations, allowing accurate field triage and direction of patient care, in even the most austere of environments. Ultrasound use can be maximized with adequate training, experience, and appreciation of its technical limitations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-23
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Medicine
Issue number42006
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2004


  • Disaster
  • hand-held ultrasound
  • mass casualty
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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