A Narrative Review of Common Uses of Ophthalmic Ultrasound in Emergency Medicine

Chad Skidmore, Tate Saurey, Robinson M Ferre, Richard Rodriguez-Brizuela, Justin Spaulding, Nena Lundgreen Mason
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2020 September 9

BACKGROUND: The timely evaluation of ocular conditions in the emergency department (ED) can be difficult due to a general lack of specialized equipment, trained personnel, and the time-sensitive nature of emergent ocular conditions. Recently, the use of ocular point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) has been shown to be particularly useful in the ED. POCUS can be used to promptly diagnose various ocular pathologies, which include ocular trauma, vitreous hemorrhage, central retinal artery occlusion, and retinal detachment.

OBJECTIVES: This narrative review seeks to inform the reader of current literature regarding the use of POCUS for the assessment of various ocular emergencies in the ED. The goal of this review is to provide the emergency physician with succinct and up-to-date information and instruction regarding the current uses of POCUS for patients presenting with particular ocular emergencies. Ocular pathologies that are common (ocular trauma) or for which ultrasound is particularly useful (such as retinal detachment) are discussed. Other ocular pathologies are also briefly discussed, such as central retinal artery occlusion, which is a promising new application for ultrasound evaluation.

DISCUSSION: There have been many studies that provide evidence for the utility of POCUS in the evaluation of trauma and other ocular pathologies, including vitreous hemorrhage, retinal detachment, and central retinal artery occlusion.

CONCLUSIONS: Ocular POCUS is a useful modality in the evaluation of acute ocular complaints in the ED. Emergency physicians should be aware of these findings and feel confident in the utility of ocular POCUS in the ED.

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