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Open Access Research article

Emergency department spirometric volume and base deficit delineate risk for torso injury in stable patients

C Michael Dunham1*, Eilynn K Sipe2 and LeeAnn Peluso1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, St. Elizabeth Health Center, Belmont Avenue, Youngstown, OH, USA

2 Department of Surgery, Ferguson Clinic, Jefferson Road SE, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

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BMC Surgery 2004, 4:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-4-3

Published: 19 January 2004

Abstract

Background

We sought to determine torso injury rates and sensitivities associated with fluid-positive abdominal ultrasound, metabolic acidosis (increased base deficit and lactate), and impaired pulmonary physiology (decreased spirometric volume and PaO2/FiO2).

Methods

Level I trauma center prospective pilot and post-pilot study (2000–2001) of stable patients. Increased base deficit was < 0.0 in ethanol-negative and ≤ -3.0 in ethanol-positive patients. Increased lactate was > 2.5 mmol/L in ethanol-negative and ≥ 3.0 mmol/L in ethanol-positive patients. Decreased PaO2/FiO2 was < 350 and decreased spirometric volume was < 1.8 L.

Results

Of 215 patients, 66 (30.7%) had a torso injury (abdominal/pelvic injury n = 35 and/or thoracic injury n = 43). Glasgow Coma Scale score was 14.8 ± 0.5 (13–15). Torso injury rates and sensitivities were: abdominal ultrasound negative and normal base deficit, lactate, PaO2/FiO2, and spirometric volume – 0.0% & 0.0%; normal base deficit and normal spirometric volume – 4.2% & 4.5%; chest/abdominal soft tissue injury – 37.8% & 47.0%; increased lactate – 39.7% & 47.0%; increased base deficit – 41.3% & 75.8%; increased base deficit and/or decreased spirometric volume – 43.8% & 95.5%; decreased PaO2/FiO2 – 48.9% & 33.3%; positive abdominal ultrasound – 62.5% & 7.6%; decreased spirometric volume – 73.4% & 71.2%; increased base deficit and decreased spirometric volume – 82.9% & 51.5%.

Conclusions

Trauma patients with normal base deficit and spirometric volume are unlikely to have a torso injury. Patients with increased base deficit or lactate, decreased spirometric volume, decreased PaO2/FiO2, or positive FAST have substantial risk for torso injury. Increased base deficit and/or decreased spirometric volume are highly sensitive for torso injury. Base deficit and spirometric volume values are readily available and increase or decrease the suspicion for torso injury.