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Emergency Medicine International
Volume 2013, Article ID 982318, 4 pages
Review Article

Pitfalls in Emergency Department Focused Bedside Sonography of First Trimester Pregnancy

Department of Emergency Medicine, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Ground Floor, CCC Building, 3800 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA

Received 25 June 2013; Accepted 18 July 2013

Academic Editor: Aristomenis K. Exadaktylos

Copyright © 2013 Kerri Layman et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Bedside sonography performed by emergency physicians is frequently utilized for real-time clinical decision-making in the emergency department (ED) setting. This includes the sonographic evaluation of pain or bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy. The detection of intrauterine pregnancy (IUP) or life-threatening conditions, including ectopic pregnancy, is critical. Objectives. This paper will review several important pearls and avoidable pitfalls of this diagnostic modality by brief presentation of illustrative cases followed by discussion of key principles. Case Reports. Three patients evaluated in the ED for bleeding or pain occurring during the first trimester of pregnancy will be presented. Conclusions. When conducting emergency bedside ultrasound for the evaluation of first trimester pregnancy, it is important to avoid common pitfalls that can place your patient at risk.