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Current role of emergency ultrasound of the chest*

Reissig, Angelika MD; Copetti, Roberto MD; Kroegel, Claus MD, PhD, FCCP

doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e318206d6b8
Review Articles

Objective: Chest sonography has gained clinical significance in the diagnosis of various pulmonary, pleural, cardiac, and mediastinal emergency conditions. Therefore, the current role of emergency ultrasound are assessed.

Data Source: A systematic literature search of MEDLINE database was performed to identify all studies dealing with transthoracic sonography/chest ultrasound in combination with pulmonary embolism, pneumothorax, pneumonia, pleural effusion, pulmonary edema, and lung contusion. The relevant sonographic studies between 1988 and 2010 were evaluated.

Conclusions: The noninvasive ultrasound-based diagnosis is relatively portable permitting the technique to be performed at any time, in any place, and on any patient, an ideal method for emergency conditions. Sonography allows immediate diagnosis of pulmonary embolism, pneumothorax, pneumonia, pleural effusion as well as rib fracture, and it provides a basis for further diagnostic- and treatment-related decisions. The key sonographic features associated with these most common emergency chest diseases are illustrated herein.

From the Department of Pneumology and Allergology (AR, CK) Medical University Clinics I, Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena, Germany; and Emergency Department (RC), San Antonio Abate Hospital (RC), Tolmezzo, Italy.

The authors have not disclosed any potential conflicts of interest.

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© 2011 by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins