Assessment of the lung has traditionally been considered off-limits for ultrasound, because the presence of air and its high acoustic mismatch with surrounding tissues causes a complete reflection of the ultrasound beam and therefore an inability to create direct images of the pulmonary parenchyma.
However, it is the acoustic limitations of ultrasound in air-rich organs like the lungs can actually prove to be a diagnostic advantage. The presence/absence of certain patterns of, for example, lung pulse, B lines and lung sliding can go a long way in evaluating various acute and chronic conditions such as pneumothorax, pneumonia, interstitial lung disease, infarctions and contusions.
Lung ultrasound can be especially valuable since it is a relatively easy-to-learn application of ultrasound, less technically demanding than other sonographic examinations. It is quick to perform, portable, repeatable, non-ionizing, independent from specific acoustic windows, and therefore suitable for a meaningful evaluation in many different settings, both inpatient and outpatient, in both acute and chronic conditions.
In the next few years, point-of-care lung ultrasound is likely to become increasingly important in many different clinical settings, from the emergency department and the intensive care unit, to cardiology and pulmonology wards.
In this article CAE healthcare explains how ultrasound can be beneficial in the point-of-care setting. Here is an extract of the five ways in which lung ultrasound can benefit patients and providers.
- More accurate diagnoses than chest X-rays
- Better patient management for shorter hospital stays
- Reduced exposure to radiation
- Better patient satisfaction
- More physician confidence in their treatment plans
New to 2017, the Ultrasound Education Group is offering a number of simulator lung ultrasound workshops that will equip you with the knowledge and skills to perform point-of-care lung ultrasound useful for diagnosing common significant lung pathologies.
Information credited to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.