Can handheld micropower impulse radar technology be used to detect pneumothorax? Initial experience in a European trauma centre

Albers, Christoph; Haefeli, Pascal; Zimmermann, Heinz; de Moya, Marc; Exadaktylos, Aristomenis Konstantinos (2013). Can handheld micropower impulse radar technology be used to detect pneumothorax? Initial experience in a European trauma centre. Injury - international journal of the care of the injured, 44(5), pp. 650-654. Oxford: Elsevier 10.1016/j.injury.2012.02.001

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BACKGROUND: Pneumothoraces are a common injury pattern in emergency medicine. Rapid and safe identification can reduce morbidity and mortality. A new handheld, battery powered device, the Pneumoscan (CE 561036, PneumoSonics Inc., Cleveland, OH, USA), using micropower impulse radar (MIR) technology, has recently been introduced in Europe for the rapid and reliable detection of PTX. However, this technology has not yet been tested in trauma patients. This is the first quality control evaluation to report on emergency room performance of a new device used in the trauma setting. MATERIAL AND METHODS: This study was performed at a Level I trauma centre in Switzerland. All patients with thoracic trauma and undergoing chest X-ray and CT-scan were eligible for the study. Readings were performed before the chest X-ray and CT scan. The patients had eight lung fields tested (four on each side). All readings with the Pneumoscan were performed by two junior residents in our department who had previously received an instructional tutorial of 15min. The qualitative MIR results were blinded, and stored on the device. We then compared the results of the MIR to those of the clinical examination, chest X-ray and CT-scan. RESULTS: 50 patients were included, with a mean age of 46 (SD 17) years. Seven patients presented with PTX diagnosed by CT; six of these were detected by Pneumoscan, leading to an overall sensitivity of 85.7 (95% confidence interval 42.1-99.6)%. Only two of seven PTX were found during clinical examination and on chest X-ray (sensitivity 28.6 (95% CI 3.7-71.0)%). Of the remaining 43 of 50 patients without PTX, one false-positive PTX was found by the Pneumoscan, resulting in a specificity of 97.7 (95% CI 87.7-99.9)%. DISCUSSION: The Pneumoscan is an easy to use handheld technology with reliable results. In this series, the sensitivity to detect a PTX by the Pneumoscan was higher than by clinical examination and chest X-ray. Further studies with higher case numbers and a prospective study design are needed to confirm our findings.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Intensive Care, Emergency Medicine and Anaesthesiology (DINA) > University Emergency Center
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Orthopaedic, Plastic and Hand Surgery (DOPH) > Clinic of Orthopaedic Surgery

UniBE Contributor:

Albers, Christoph, Haefeli, Pascal, Zimmermann, Heinz (B), Exadaktylos, Aristomenis


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Stephanie Schmutz

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:34

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:32

Publisher DOI:


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URI: (FactScience: 220082)

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