Thoracic Ultrasound

Approach to Thoracic Ultrasound

Thoracic ultrasound

  • Fluid in chest cavity
    • Pleural effusion
    • Hemothorax – adjunct to FAST
  • Pneumothorax
  • Interstitial fluid
    • “alveolar interstitial syndrome” (AIS)
    • Pulmonary edema
sensor position


So thoracic US can be a stand alone examination or it can be integrated into various examinations such as the FAST exam or the BLUE protocol for shortness of breath. It’s particularly good for finding pleural effusions in the inferior thoracic spaces which can also be a soon to be hemothorax if it’s a new effusion in a traumatic exam, such as fast exam. It can also be helpful for finding pneumothorax, either traumatic or spontaneous, and interstitial fluid, such as alveolar interstitial syndrome, fluid that is typically from pulmonary edema or congestive heart failure in the acute setting.

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