US Army Combat Medic Performance With Portable Ultrasound to Detect Sonographic Findings of Pneumothorax in a Cadaveric Model

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Meadows RM, Monti JD, Umar MA, Van Arnem KA, Chin EJ, Mitchell CA, Love S 20(3). 71 - 75 (Journal Article)

Background: Ultrasound, due to recent advances in portability and versatility, has become a valuable clinical adjunct in austere, resource-limited settings and is well demonstrated to be an accurate/efficient means to detect pneumothorax. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of hands-on ultrasound training on ultrasound-naive US Army combat medics' ability to detect sonographic findings of pneumothorax with portable ultrasound in a cadaver model. Methods: Ultrasound-naive US Army combat medics assigned to conventional military units were recruited from a single US Army installation and randomized to receive either didactic training only, or "blended" (didactic and hands-on) training on ultrasound detection of pneumothorax. Blinded participants were asked to perform a thoracic ultrasound exam on ventilated human cadaver models. Primary outcome measured was sensitivity and specificity of detecting sonographic findings of pneumothorax between cohorts. Results: Forty-three participants examined a total of 258 hemithoraces. The didactic-only cohort (n = 24) detected sonographic findings of pneumothorax with a sensitivity of 68% and specificity of 57%. The blended cohort (n = 19) detected sonographic findings of pneumothorax with an overall sensitivity of 91% and specificity of 80%. Detection sensitivities were similar between B-mode versus M-mode use. Conclusion: US Army combat medics can use portable U/S to detect sonographic findings of pneumothorax in a human cadaver model with high sensitivity after a brief, blended (didactic and hands-on) training intervention.

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