JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

[Lung ultrasound in acute and critical care medicine]

P M Zechner, A Seibel, G Aichinger, M Steigerwald, K Dorr, P Scheiermann, S Schellhaas, C Cuca, R Breitkreutz
Der Anaesthesist 2012, 61 (7): 608-17
22772347
The development of modern critical care lung ultrasound is based on the classical representation of anatomical structures and the need for the assessment of specific sonography artefacts and phenomena. The air and fluid content of the lungs is interpreted using few typical artefacts and phenomena, with which the most important differential diagnoses can be made. According to a recent international consensus conference these include lung sliding, lung pulse, B-lines, lung point, reverberation artefacts, subpleural consolidations and intrapleural fluid collections. An increased number of B-lines is an unspecific sign for an increased quantity of fluid in the lungs resembling interstitial syndromes, for example in the case of cardiogenic pulmonary edema or lung contusion. In the diagnosis of interstitial syndromes lung ultrasound provides higher diagnostic accuracy (95%) than auscultation (55%) and chest radiography (72%). Diagnosis of pneumonia and pulmonary embolism can be achieved at the bedside by evaluating subpleural lung consolidations. Detection of lung sliding can help to detect asymmetrical ventilation and allows the exclusion of a pneumothorax. Ultrasound-based diagnosis of pneumothorax is superior to supine anterior chest radiography: for ultrasound the sensitivity is 92-100% and the specificity 91-100%. For the diagnosis of pneumothorax a simple algorithm was therefore designed: in the presence of lung sliding, lung pulse or B-lines, pneumothorax can be ruled out, in contrast a positive lung point is a highly specific sign of the presence of pneumothorax. Furthermore, lung ultrasound allows not only diagnosis of pleural effusion with significantly higher sensitivity than chest x-ray but also visual control in ultrasound-guided thoracocentesis.

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