Fast ultrasound as an adjunct to triage using the START mass casualty triage system: A preliminary descriptive study

Matthew D. Sztajnkrycer, Amado Alejandro Baez, Anuradha Luke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


Objective. To determine whether the FAST examination might be a useful adjunct to simple triage and rapid treatment (START) in the secondary triage of mass-casualty victims already classified as delayed (YELLOW). Methods. A retrospective chart review was conducted of all adult trauma patients evaluated by the trauma surgery service at a level 1 trauma center between January 1 and December 31, 2003. Patients were retrospectively triaged to one of three START categories: immediate (RED), delayed (YELLOW), or expectant (BLACK). The FAST results were obtained from the medical records. Results. FAST results were available for 359 patients, of which 27 were classified as positive. Twenty (6.9%) of 286 patients retrospectively triaged as delayed (YELLOW) had positive FAST studies. Of these, six underwent operative intervention within 24 hours of arrival. A total of 232 patients had both FAST and computed tomography (CT) studies performed, of which 19 FAST studies were inconclusive. In the remaining 213 patients, six of 27 had falsely positive studies, while 24 of 186 had falsely negative studies. Conclusions. Portable ultrasound technology might have identified 20 delayed (YELLOW) patients with evidence of hemoperitoneum, thereby expediting evacuation to definitive care. However, only 30% of these patients subsequently underwent an operative intervention within 24 hours of arrival. Both over- and undertriage were significant problems. As such, the current study does not support the routine use of FAST ultrasound as a secondary triage tool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-102
Number of pages7
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006
Externally publishedYes



  • Disaster
  • FAST
  • Triage
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency

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