for people ages up to 17 years (full criteria)
at UC Davis
study started
completion around
Principal Investigator
by James F Holmes, MD, MPH (ucdavis)Nathan Kuppermann, MD, MPH (ucdavis)



Bleeding from intra-abdominal injuries is a leading cause of traumatic deaths in children. Abdominal CT is the reference standard test for diagnosing intra-abdominal injuries. Compelling reasons exist, however, to both aggressively evaluate injured children for intra-abdominal injuries with CT and to limit abdominal CT evaluation to solely those at non-negligible risk. The focused assessment sonography for trauma (FAST) examination can help focus patient evaluation in just this manner by potentially safely decreasing abdominal CT use in low risk children. This research study is a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial to determine whether use of the FAST examination, a bedside abdominal ultrasound, impacts care in 3,194 hemodynamically stable children with blunt abdominal trauma. The overall objectives of this proposal are 1) to determine the efficacy of using the FAST examination during the initial evaluation of children with blunt abdominal trauma, and 2) to identify factors associated with abdominal CT use in children considered very low risk for IAI after a negative FAST examination. The long-term objective of the research is to determine appropriate evaluation strategies to optimize the care of injured children, leading to improved quality of care and a reduction in morbidity and mortality.

Official Title

A Randomized Controlled Trial of Abdominal Ultrasound (FAST) in Children With Blunt Torso Trauma


Trauma is a leading cause of death in children in the US. Abdominal trauma accounts for 30% of all pediatric traumatic deaths, second only to traumatic brain injury. Although CT is the reference standard for diagnosing intra-abdominal injury, it is associated with ionizing radiation, inducing malignancies at an estimated rate of 1 per 500 abdominal CT scans in children <5 years and 1 per 600 scans in adolescents. Thus, CT use should be limited to those at non-negligible risk of intra-abdominal injury.

The Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma (FAST) examination has also evolved as a diagnostic test for the evaluation for intra-abdominal injury; however, it is used primarily in adults. The FAST examination uses abdominal ultrasonography to detect the presence of intraperitoneal fluid in injured patients. If intraperitoneal fluid is identified following a traumatic injury, this fluid is presumed to be blood (hemoperitoneum). The FAST examination for detection of hemoperitoneum in trauma consists of several images. These include a right hepatorenal interface (Morison's pouch), perisplenic view, and longitudinal and transverse views of the pelvis.

Potential advantages of initial ED evaluation of the injured child using the FAST examination include: 1) bedside evaluation during initial patient ED evaluation and resuscitation; 2) rapid completion of the diagnostic test (within 3-5 minutes); 3) performance of the test and interpretation of results by ED physicians or trauma surgeons caring for the child; 4) no radiation exposure; and 5) reduced patient-care costs compared to routine use of abdominal CT. In adults, a positive FAST examination is the best predictor of intra-abdominal injury. In two adult randomized controlled trials, the use of FAST demonstrated improved patient care by decreasing abdominal CT use, complications and costs. Although the sensitivity of the FAST exam for intra-abdominal injury is lower than CT, as a screening test, it may decrease the need for abdominal CT in both low risk injured adults and children.

The long-term objective of this research study is to determine appropriate evaluation strategies to optimize the care of injured children, leading to improved quality of care and a reduction in morbidity and mortality. The specific aims of this proposal are to: 1) perform a randomized, controlled trial of the FAST examination in injured children and compare the frequency of abdominal CT scanning between children who are randomized to the FAST and non-FAST arms; 2) identify if an evaluation strategy including the FAST examination results in a similar frequency of missed or delayed diagnoses of intra-abdominal injuries than a strategy without the FAST examination; and 3) identify patient, physician, and system factors associated with obtaining abdominal CT scans in patients considered low risk for intra-abdominal injuries by the clinician after a negative FAST examination. Such a study has the potential for significant impact in improving the lives of injured children, if found to be successful.

This randomized controlled trial will follow the methods of the one prior randomized controlled trial of FAST in injured children which enrolled 925 injured children at a single center. This study incorporate a total of six centers to increase the sample size and generalizability of the results.


Blunt Trauma to Abdomen, Wounds and Injuries, Abdomen Injury, Abdominal Injury, Abdomen, Acute, Child, Blunt Abdominal Trauma, Acute Abdomen, Abdominal Injuries, Nonpenetrating Wounds, Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma (FAST) Examination


For people ages up to 17 years

Children younger than 18 years of age (0 to 17.9999 years) with blunt abdominal trauma presenting to the participating EDs within 24 hours of the traumatic event will be eligible if the do not meet any exclusion criteria and meet any one of the following inclusion criteria.

Inclusion Criteria:

  1. Blunt torso trauma resulting from a significant mechanism of injury:
    • Motor vehicle collision: greater than 60 mph, ejection, or rollover
    • Automobile versus pedestrian/bicycle: automobile speed > 25 mph
    • Falls greater than 20 feet in height
    • Crush injury to the torso
    • Physical assault involving the abdomen
  2. Decreased level of consciousness (Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score 9-14 or below age-appropriate behavior) in association with blunt torso trauma
  3. Blunt traumatic event with any of the following (regardless of the mechanism):
    • Extremity paralysis
    • Multiple long bone fractures (e.g., tibia and humerus fracture)
  4. History and physical examination suggestive of blunt torso trauma of any mechanism (including mechanisms of injury of less severity than mentioned above)

Exclusion Criteria:

The following patients will be excluded from the study:

  1. Age-adjusted low blood pressure (Hemodynamic instability)
    • Patients will be excluded for prehospital or initial age-adjusted ED low blood pressure. This is because the standard evaluation of these patients involves immediate FAST based on prior work by our group. Low blood pressure is determined based upon the patient's age, and will be defined as a systolic blood pressure less than 70 mm Hg for patients younger than 1 month, less than 80 mm Hg for ages 1 month to 5 years, and less than 90 mm Hg for ages over 5 years.
  2. Penetrating trauma: Patients who are victims of stab or gunshot wounds
  3. Traumatic injury occurring > 24 hours prior to the time of presentation to the ED
  4. Transfer of the patient to the ED from an outside facility with abdominal CT scan, diagnostic peritoneal lavage, or laparotomy previously performed
  5. Transferred with FAST exam already performed at outside hospital
  6. Patients with known disease processes resulting in intraperitoneal fluid including liver failure and the presence of ventriculoperitoneal shunts
  7. Initial GCS score ≤ 8 as it is standard for children with GCS scores ≤ 8 to undergo abdominal CT if blunt abdominal trauma is suspected
  8. Known pregnancy
  9. Known prisoner
  10. Known intra-abdominal injury diagnosed within 30 days prior of this ED visit


  • University of California, Davis Medical Center accepting new patients
    Sacramento California 95817 United States
  • University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Center and Children's Hospital Colorado accepting new patients
    Aurora Colorado 80045 United States

Lead Scientists at University of California Health

  • James F Holmes, MD, MPH (ucdavis)
    Professor, Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine. Authored (or co-authored) 193 research publications
  • Nathan Kuppermann, MD, MPH (ucdavis)
    Professor, Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine. Authored (or co-authored) 382 research publications


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
James F. Holmes, MD, MPH
Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network
Study Type
Expecting 3194 study participants
Last Updated