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Volume 41 Number 1, January/February 2004
Pages 101 — 108

Lack of justification for routine abdominal ultrasonography in patients with chronic spinal cord injury

Marca L. Sipski, MD; Irene M. Estores, MD; Craig J. Alexander, PhD; Xiaohui Guo, PhD; S.K. Chandralapaty, MD

Department of Veterans Administration Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence in Functional Recovery After Chronic Spinal Cord Injury; Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Departments of Neurological Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, South Florida Model Spinal Cord Injury System, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Abstract — Little evidence-based research is available to indicate which procedures should routinely be performed for screening exams in patients with spinal cord injuries (SCIs). It had been the procedure to routinely perform abdominal ultrasonography on a yearly basis at our medical center. Therefore, we conducted a retrospective study to determine whether the repetition of these procedures resulted in detection of any pathology warranting treatment that otherwise would have gone undetected. The electronic records of 174 individuals were reviewed, along with a total of 359 abdominal ultrasounds and exams. High incidences of abnormal findings were found in the liver, pancreas, spleen, gallbladder, and kidney; however, no specific interventions were noted solely on the basis of the ultrasound findings. Moreover, no added benefits could be documented through the performance of repetitive exams. We recommend that further evidence-based studies be performed to ascertain the benefits of performance of routine procedures in patients with SCIs.
Key words: ultrasound, SCI.

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