Focused assessment sonography for trauma: a fast overview of FAST
An ultrasound technique to assess patients with trauma
It is 10:30 on a Friday night; you’re on your first emergency medicine attachment; and a motor vehicle crash victim arrives with suspected blunt abdominal trauma. The emergency doctor in charge tells you that the patient is going to stabilise and that he may need a FAST. You try to recall what this scan is and what it might show.
The care of patients with trauma is scary and challenging. It requires rapid decision making and prompt, effective interventions. Assessment of possible intra-abdominal injury after blunt abdominal trauma is a common clinical scenario in the emergency department. Missed intra-abdominal pathology continues to cause preventable deaths.1 The emergency management of blunt abdominal trauma has evolved from physical examination alone to the introduction of diagnostic peritoneal lavage in 1965, ultrasound scanning in the early 1970s, and the development of computed tomography in the mid-1980s.2 These investigations have gained general acceptance, but each