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Ultrasound imaging in critical care 

Ultrasound imaging in critical care
Ultrasound imaging in critical care

Andrew Hilton

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date: 27 September 2020

Clinical assessment of the critically ill cardiothoracic patient can be very difficult as the presence of mechanical cardiorespiratory supports impedes traditional clinical examination techniques. Ultrasonography can be performed at the patient’s bedside and may obviate the need to transfer a potentially unstable patient to a clinically ‘hostile’ environment such as a CT scanner. In the very unstable patient it may be the only practical imaging modality available. Echocardiography has demonstrable clinical utility, particularly in the management of the cardiothoracic surgical patient. Vascular ultrasound can be used for diagnosing vascular complications of surgical treatment; abdominal ultrasonography is often the initial investigation for assessing hepatobiliary or renal disease and complications. Thoracic ultrasound is invaluable for the diagnosis of pleural disease. Finally, ultrasonography can guide and improve the safety of invasive procedures.Though specialist ultrasound imaging remains necessary particularly when rare or complex pathology is involved, critical care physicians themselves are more frequently performing point-of-care ultrasound examinations.

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