DOI: 10.1097/ta.0000000000004107 ISSN:

Should surgeon-performed intraoperative ultrasound be the preferred test for detecting main pancreatic duct injuries in operative trauma cases?

Chad G. Ball, Walter L. Biffl, Ernest E. Moore, Ellen J. Hagopian
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Surgery



The diagnostic performance of multiple tests for detecting the presence of a main pancreatic duct injury remains poor. Given the central importance of main duct integrity for both subsequent treatment algorithms and patient outcomes, poor test reliability is problematic. The primary aim was to evaluate the comparative test performance of computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRCP), endoscopy (ERCP) and intraoperative ultrasound (IOUS) for detecting main pancreatic duct injuries.


All severely injured adult patients with pancreatic trauma (2010-2021) were evaluated. Patients who received an IOUS pancreas-focused evaluation, with grade III, IV and V injuries (main duct injury) were compared to those with grade I and II trauma (no main duct injury). Test performances were analyzed.


Of 248 pancreatic injuries, 74 underwent an IOUS. The additional mix of diagnostic studies (CT, MRCP, ERCP) was variable across grade of injury. Of these 74 IOUS cases for pancreatic injuries, 48 (64.8%) were confirmed as grade III, IV or V main duct injuries. The patients were predominantly young (median age = 33, IQR:21-45) blunt injured (70%) males (74%) with severe injury demographics (injury severity score = 28, (IQR:19-36); 30% hemodynamic instability; 91% synchronous intraabdominal injuries). Thirty-five percent of patients required damage control surgery. Patient outcomes included a median 13-day hospital length of stay and 1% mortality rate. Test performance was variable across groups (CT = 58% sensitive/77% specific; MRCP = 71% sensitive/100% specific; ERCP = 100% sensitive; IOUS = 98% sensitive/100% specific).


IOUS is a highly sensitive and specific test for detecting main pancreatic duct injuries. This technology is simple to learn, readily available, and should be considered in patients who require concurrent non-damage control abdominal operations.

Level of Evidence


Study Type

Original Article

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