Radiological work-up after mass casualty incidents: are ATLS guidelines applicable?

Ingri L. E. Postma, L. F. M. Beenen, T. S. Bijlsma, F. H. Berger, M. J. Heetveld, F. W. Bloemers, J. C. Goslings

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In mass casualty incidents (MCI) a large number of patients need to be evaluated and treated fast. Well-designed radiological guidelines can save lives. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) radiological guidelines in the MCI of an aeroplane crash. Medical data of all 126 survivors of an aeroplane crash were analysed. Data included type and body region of the radiological studies performed on the survivors, Abbreviated Injury Score (AIS) and Injury Severity Score (ISS) codes and trauma care level of the hospitals. Ninety patients (72 %) underwent one or more imaging studies: in total 297 radiographs, 148 CTs and 18 ultrasounds were performed. Only 18 % received diagnostic imaging of all four body regions as recommended by ATLS. Compliance with ATLS was highest (73.3 %) in severely injured victims (ISS ≥16); this group underwent two thirds of the (near) total body CTs, all performed in level I trauma centres. Overall compliance with ATLS radiological guidelines was low, although high in severely injured patients. Level I trauma centres frequently used (near) total body CT. Deviation from ATLS guidelines in radiological work-up in less severely injured patients can be safe and did not result in delayed diagnosis of serious injury. • Radiological imaging protocols can assist the management of mass casualty incidents needs. • Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) radiological guidelines have been developed. • But radiological guidelines have not frequently been applied in aeroplane crashes. • Aircraft accidents are of high energy so ATLS guidelines should be applied. • Following mass casualty incidents total body CT seems appropriate within ATLS protocols
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-791
JournalEuropean Radiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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