The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine and the American College of Emergency Physicians recently announced that they have jointly published guidelines on how to correctly perform the Focused Assessment with Sonography in Trauma (FAST) examination.

The published text includes indications for performing the examination, qualifications and responsibilities of the performing physician, specifications for individual examinations, documentation requirements, equipment specifications, quality control and safety standards.

Used as an alternative to more invasive procedures, like surgery, the FAST exam evaluates the injured patient immediately during resuscitation to detect large abnormal fluid collections or other collections that need immediate treatment.

According to the organizations, the FAST exam, taught to more than 95 percent of emergency medicine residents, is widely accepted as the standard of care for the initial assessment and treatment in trauma centers. More and more health care providers are using the examination to evaluate trauma patients in hospital emergency rooms, pre-hospital situations, military locations and disaster areas.

With the publishing of guidelines, created with expert input from traditional and emergency physician ultrasound experts, the ACEP and AIUM hope that the exam gains even more national and international support.

"Because ultrasound is utilized by so many medical specialty groups, the future use of this technology lies in working collaboratively with other societies to develop uniform guidelines for performing ultrasound examinations," said Joshua Copel, MD, AIUM President.

Copies of the Guideline for the Performance of the FAST Examination are available online at the AIUM Web site at and the ACEP Web site at