Prehospital point-of-care ultrasound in ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms-a retrospective cohort study

Signe Voigt Lauridsen*, Morten Thingemann Bøtker, Nikolaj Eldrup, Peter Juhl-Olsen

*Corresponding author for this work


BACKGROUND: Patients with ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (rAAA) require immediate vascular treatment to survive. The use of prehospital point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) may support clinical assessment, correct diagnosis, appropriate triage and reduce system delay. The aim was to study the process of care and outcome in patients receiving prehospital POCUS versus patients not receiving prehospital POCUS in patients with rAAA, ruptured iliac aneurysm or impending aortic rupture.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study in patients diagnosed with rAAA in the Central Denmark Region treated by a prehospital critical care physician from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2021. Performance of prehospital POCUS was extracted from the prehospital electronic health records. System delay was defined as the time from the emergency phone call to the emergency medical service dispatch centre until the start of surgery. Data on patients primary hospital admission to a centre with/without vascular treatment expertise, treatments and complications including death were extracted from electronic health records.

RESULTS: We included 169 patients; prehospital POCUS was performed in 124 patients (73%). Emergency surgical treatment was performed in 71 patients. The overall survival in the POCUS group was 39% versus 16% in the NO POCUS group (hazard ratio (HR) (95% 0.60, 95% CI: 0.41-0.89, p = .011). In the POCUS group 99/124 (80%) were directly admitted to a vascular surgical centre versus 25/45 (56%) in the NO POCUS, RD 24% (95% CI: 8-40)), (p = .002). In the POCUS group, system delay was a median of 142 minutes (interquartile range (IQR) 121-189) and a median of 232 minutes (IQR 166-305) in the NO POCUS group (p = .006). In a multivariable analysis incorporating age, sex, previously known rAAA, and typical clinical symptoms of rAAA, the HR for death was 0.57, 95% CI 0.38-0.86 (p = .008) favouring prehospital POCUS.

CONCLUSIONS: Prehospital POCUS was associated with reduced time to treatment, higher chance of operability and significantly higher 30-day survival in patients with rAAA, ruptured iliac aneurysm or impending rupture of an AAA in this retrospective study. Residual confounding cannot be excluded. This study supports the clinical relevance of prehospital POCUS of the abdominal aorta.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)693-701
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal/diagnostic imaging
  • Aortic Rupture/diagnostic imaging
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Endovascular Procedures
  • Humans
  • Iliac Aneurysm/etiology
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • prehospital
  • ultrasound/POCUS
  • system delay


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