ABCDE of prehospital ultrasonography: a narrative review

Rein Ketelaars1,2* , Gabby Reijnders3, Geert-Jan van Geffen1,2, Gert Jan Scheffer1 and Nico Hoogerwerf1,2


Prehospital point-of-care ultrasound used by nonradiologists in emergency medicine is gaining ground. It is feasi- ble on-scene and during aeromedical transport and allows health-care professionals to detect or rule out potential harmful conditions. Consequently, it impacts decision-making in prioritizing care, selecting the best treatment, and the most suitable transport mode and destination. This increasing relevance of prehospital ultrasonography is due to advancements in ultrasound devices and related technology, and to a growing number of applications. This narra- tive review aims to present an overview of prehospital ultrasonography literature. The focus is on civilian emergency (trauma and non-trauma) setting. Current and potential future applications are discussed, structured according to the airway, breathing, circulation, disability, and environment/exposure (ABCDE) approach. Aside from diagnostic imple- mentation and specific protocols, procedural guidance, therapeutic ultrasound, and challenges are reviewed.
Keywords: Prehospital, Ultrasonography, Diagnostic imaging, Emergency medical services, Air ambulances, Emergency medicine, Review

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