open access

Vol 46, No 5 (2014 Nov-Dec)
Review articles
Submitted: 2014-11-28
Accepted: 2014-11-28
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Ten good reasons to practice ultrasound in critical care

Daniel Lichtenstein, Simon van Hooland, Paul Elbers, Manu L.N.G. Malbrain
DOI: 10.5603/AIT.2014.0056
·
Anaesthesiol Intensive Ther 2014;46(5):323-335.

open access

Vol 46, No 5 (2014 Nov-Dec)
Review articles
Submitted: 2014-11-28
Accepted: 2014-11-28

Abstract

Over the past decade, critical care ultrasound has gained its place in the armamentarium of monitoring tools. A greater understanding of lung, abdominal, and vascular ultrasound plus easier access to portable machines have revolutionised the bedside assessment of our ICU patients. Because ultrasound is not only a diagnostic test, but can also be seen as a component of the physical exam, it has the potential to become the stethoscope of the 21st century. Critical care ultrasound is a combination of simple protocols, with lung ultrasound being a basic application, allowing assessment of urgent diagnoses in combination with therapeutic decisions. The LUCI (Lung Ultrasound in the Critically Ill) consists of the identification of ten signs: the bat sign (pleural line); lung sliding (seashore sign); the A-lines (horizontal artefact); the quad sign and sinusoid sign indicating pleural effusion; the fractal and tissue-like sign indicating lung consolidation; the B-lines and lung rockets indicating interstitial syndromes; abolished lung sliding with the stratosphere sign suggesting pneumothorax; and the lung point indicating pneumothorax. Two more signs, the lung pulse and the dynamic air bronchogram, are used to distinguish atelectasis from pneumonia. The BLUE protocol (Bedside Lung Ultrasound in Emergency) is a fast protocol (< 3 minutes), also including a vascular (venous) analysis allowing differential diagnosis in patients with acute respiratory failure. With this protocol, it becomes possible to differentiate between pulmonary oedema, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and pneumothorax, each showing specific ultrasound patterns and profiles. The FALLS protocol (Fluid Administration Limited by Lung Sonography) adapts the BLUE protocol to be used in patients with acute circulatory failure. It makes a sequential search for obstructive, cardiogenic, hypovolemic, and distributive shock using simple real-time echocardiography in combination with lung ultrasound, with the appearance of B-lines considered to be the endpoint for fluid therapy. An advantage of lung ultrasound is that the patient is not exposed to radiation, and so the LUCI-FLR project (LUCI favouring limitation of radiation) can be unfolded in trauma patients. Although it has been practiced for 25 years, critical care ultrasound is a relatively young but expanding discipline and can be seen as the stethoscope of the modern intensivist. In this review, the usefulness and advantages of ultrasound in the critical care setting are discussed in ten points. The emphasis is on a holistic approach, with a central role for lung ultrasound.

Abstract

Over the past decade, critical care ultrasound has gained its place in the armamentarium of monitoring tools. A greater understanding of lung, abdominal, and vascular ultrasound plus easier access to portable machines have revolutionised the bedside assessment of our ICU patients. Because ultrasound is not only a diagnostic test, but can also be seen as a component of the physical exam, it has the potential to become the stethoscope of the 21st century. Critical care ultrasound is a combination of simple protocols, with lung ultrasound being a basic application, allowing assessment of urgent diagnoses in combination with therapeutic decisions. The LUCI (Lung Ultrasound in the Critically Ill) consists of the identification of ten signs: the bat sign (pleural line); lung sliding (seashore sign); the A-lines (horizontal artefact); the quad sign and sinusoid sign indicating pleural effusion; the fractal and tissue-like sign indicating lung consolidation; the B-lines and lung rockets indicating interstitial syndromes; abolished lung sliding with the stratosphere sign suggesting pneumothorax; and the lung point indicating pneumothorax. Two more signs, the lung pulse and the dynamic air bronchogram, are used to distinguish atelectasis from pneumonia. The BLUE protocol (Bedside Lung Ultrasound in Emergency) is a fast protocol (< 3 minutes), also including a vascular (venous) analysis allowing differential diagnosis in patients with acute respiratory failure. With this protocol, it becomes possible to differentiate between pulmonary oedema, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and pneumothorax, each showing specific ultrasound patterns and profiles. The FALLS protocol (Fluid Administration Limited by Lung Sonography) adapts the BLUE protocol to be used in patients with acute circulatory failure. It makes a sequential search for obstructive, cardiogenic, hypovolemic, and distributive shock using simple real-time echocardiography in combination with lung ultrasound, with the appearance of B-lines considered to be the endpoint for fluid therapy. An advantage of lung ultrasound is that the patient is not exposed to radiation, and so the LUCI-FLR project (LUCI favouring limitation of radiation) can be unfolded in trauma patients. Although it has been practiced for 25 years, critical care ultrasound is a relatively young but expanding discipline and can be seen as the stethoscope of the modern intensivist. In this review, the usefulness and advantages of ultrasound in the critical care setting are discussed in ten points. The emphasis is on a holistic approach, with a central role for lung ultrasound.

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Keywords

ultrasound, critical care, BLUE protocol, FALLS protocol, LUCI, LUCI-FLR project, SESAME protocol, advantages, lung ultrasound

About this article
Title

Ten good reasons to practice ultrasound in critical care

Journal

Anaesthesiology Intensive Therapy

Issue

Vol 46, No 5 (2014 Nov-Dec)

Pages

323-335

DOI

10.5603/AIT.2014.0056

Bibliographic record

Anaesthesiol Intensive Ther 2014;46(5):323-335.

Keywords

ultrasound
critical care
BLUE protocol
FALLS protocol
LUCI
LUCI-FLR project
SESAME protocol
advantages
lung ultrasound

Authors

Daniel Lichtenstein
Simon van Hooland
Paul Elbers
Manu L.N.G. Malbrain

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