Free abdominal fluid without obvious solid organ injury upon CT imaging: an actual problem or simply over-diagnosing?

Banz, Vanessa M; Butt, Muhammad U; Zimmermann, Heinz; Jeger, Victor; Exadaktylos, Aristomenis K (2009). Free abdominal fluid without obvious solid organ injury upon CT imaging: an actual problem or simply over-diagnosing? Journal of trauma management & outcomes, 3, p. 10. London: BioMed Central 10.1186/1752-2897-3-10

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Whereas a non-operative approach for hemodynamically stable patients with free intraabdominal fluid in the presence of solid organ injury is generally accepted, the presence of free fluid in the abdomen without evidence of solid organ injury not only presents a challenge for the treating emergency physician but also for the surgeon in charge. Despite recent advances in imaging modalities, with multi-detector computed tomography (CT) (with or without contrast agent) usually the imaging method of choice, diagnosis and interpretation of the results remains difficult. While some studies conclude that CT is highly accurate and relatively specific at diagnosing mesenteric and hollow viscus injury, others studies deem CT to be unreliable. These differences may in part be due to the experience and the interpretation of the radiologist and/or the treating physician or surgeon.A search of the literature has made it apparent that there is no straightforward answer to the question what to do with patients with free intraabdominal fluid on CT scanning but without signs of solid organ injury. In hemodynamically unstable patients, free intraabdominal fluid in the absence of solid organ injury usually mandates immediate surgical intervention. For patients with blunt abdominal trauma and more than just a trace of free intraabdominal fluid or for patients with signs of peritonitis, the threshold for a surgical exploration - preferably by a laparoscopic approach - should be low. Based on the available information, we aim to provide the reader with an overview of the current literature with specific emphasis on diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to this problem and suggest a possible algorithm, which might help with the adequate treatment of such patients.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Intensive Care, Emergency Medicine and Anaesthesiology (DINA) > University Emergency Center

UniBE Contributor:

Jeger, Victor




BioMed Central




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:13

Last Modified:

06 Dec 2014 23:41

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:




URI: (FactScience: 197291)

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