SonoTips & Tricks: The FAST scan: The Cardiac views #FOAMed

Finishing the ultrasound QA sessions that we do every week at Stanford, I was reminded about how bedside ultrasound is a tool that helps when resources were limited. If you hadn’t heard, there was an Asiana Airlines plane crash at San Francisco International Airport with over 180 patients requiring medical care, 55+ of which came to Stanford. Luckily, we just added 4 new SonoSite EDGE ultrasound machines to our 4 MTurbos and 3 GE Vscan systems the week before – and they sure were used well! The FAST scan was used as a screening tool and to help prioritize those who would go to the CT scanner. Once, again, it is important to know how to do it and do it well.  Our latest insert in the ACEP Ultrasound Section newsletter is below – on the FAST scan – the Cardiac sections. The prior entry was on the FAST scan: The Upper Quadrants ( go here. ) – And Ultrasound Podcast recorded with Cliff Reid about it this week too!

I’ll start with what I’ve said before: “2013 is the YEAR OF ULTRASOUND – and for good reason – there are only a few tools that give us such immediate information that can save a life. The ACEP US Section is the go-to site for everything you want to know about starting an US program, credentialing in ultrasound, the policies and politics, and is the home of SonoGuide - an amazing educational resource for bedside ultrasound, and the EMSONO: Ultrasound Test. It is also where we add our entries for their newsletter that goes over tips and tricks, cases, and all things ultrasound in the news. We recently wrote an article for the ACEP Ultrasound Section Newsletter - which is available for all members of the ACEP US Section – and I highly recommend becoming a member – it’s totally worth it.”

It was a TRUE pleasure to record a podcast recently with Dr. Scott Weingart (aka, my hero) on EMCrit (twitter: EMCrit), and writing this article with our ultrasound fellow, Dr. Viveta Lobo, describes some of what was spoken about.

By Viveta Lobo, MD and Laleh Gharahbaghian, MD, FACEP

As discussed in our last entry, the FAST exam is undoubtedly the most widely used bedside ultrasound application used in emergency medicine. Its incorporation in the ATLS revised protocol, the RUSH exam, and several other published protocols, makes it an invaluable screening tool for intra abdominal injury causing hemoperitoneum, cardiac injury with pericardial effusion, and unexplained hypotension.

We will continue our discussion of the FAST scan by reviewing the cardiac views, and relay some tips and tricks for each. Refer to the previous newsletter for tips onscanning the right upper quadrant (RUQ) and left upper quadrant (LUQ).

The Cardiac Views:

The traditional cardiac view obtained as part of the FAST exam is the subxiphoid view. The main focus of this view in the FAST exam is to evaluate for evidence of cardiac injury by evaluating for pericardial effusion and/or cardiac tamponade. The phased array probe is placed in the subxiphoid space medially, applying pressure to go under the xiphoid process and flattening out the probe while aiming caudally.

Tips for the Subxiphoid View: 

TT1 1. Use your liver as an acoustic window. 
Sound waves will travel through liver to the heart, allowing you to visualize the heart. Often one can even place the probe slightly to the right of the xiphoid process, to allow for better liver visualization, and then adjust your depth to be able to look past the liver to the heart. Without the liver in view, gas scatter will affect your image acquisition.

2. Visualize both the inferior and superior pericardial borders, to completely evaluate for pericardial effusion or, rarely, loculated pericardial effusions. It is possible for one area to have pericardial effusion and not the other. Click Here for a Video.

3. Have the patient take a deep breath and hold it. When you notice that the heart is far from the probe, and you find yourself adjusting your depth to more than 20cm, having your patient take a deep breath will lower the heart closer to the probe, improving visualization. Click Here for a Video.


Despite the subxiphoid view being the traditional view for the FAST exam, the parasternal long view is becoming more of the ‘go-to’ window to evaluate for pericardial effusion. This may be due to several very relevant clinical factors: You simply cannot get a good subxiphoid view. An injury, foreign body, or abdominal pain does not allow for subxiphoid probe placement/pressure. Or you can differentiate pericardial fluid from pleural fluid in the parasternal long view

Tips for Parasternal Long View:
As far as patient positioning, if you’ve already evaluated the RUQ and LUQ (so as to not affect free fluid evaluation) and the patient is able to turn into a left lateral decubitus position, it will help bring the heart closer to the chest wall for visualization. This can be difficult, or impossible, in trauma patients, so the below tips may help:

TT4 1. Start high and start medial - Place your phased array probe just next to the sternum, starting just under the clavicle. If you don’t see the heart there, slide down a rib space, and fan through that space to find the heart. Continue sliding down rib spaces, until you find it.

2. Slowly change the angle of your probe (up and down) when you’re assessing each rib space as described above. ‘Slowly’ is the key word here. If you’re angling downward too much in a rib space and see the PSL heart, you may need to just slide down a rib space. If that makes the image worse, slide back up.

3. Slowly rotate your probe while keeping the angle described above (clockwise/counterclockwise depending on whether you use the right shoulder or the left hip to direct your probe marker). Rotate until you visualize the longitudinal view of the left side of the heart.

4. Slide your probe medially/laterally only if you need to in order to center the aortic and mitral valves on your screen.

5. Ensure adequate depth in order to distinguish a left sided pleural effusion from a pericardial effusion. This will allow visualization of the descending thoracic aorta seen in its transverse view just deep to the heart, which is your landmark in differentiating pleural effusion from pericardial effusion. Pleural effusion will travel posterior to the aorta while pericardial effusion will travel anterior to it (and possibly circumferentially around the heart).TT5

TT7Lastly, it can be very difficult in both subxiphoid and parasternal long views to differentiate epicardial fat pad from pericardial effusion. One tip: epicardial fat is seen anteriorly and has echogenicity within it, while pericardial effusion is seen posteriorly or inferiorly and is anechoic, but can travel anteriorly if large enough to become a circumferential pericardial fluid collection. Despite this tip, clinical correlation is needed.

Look out for Part 3 of the FAST Exam: The Pelvis, in the next newsletter. Until next time, happy scanning!

For a set of links to online education in bedside ultrasound, go here. Another post on Social Media in EM Ultrasound and the amazing tools out there to learn it for free, go here.”

1. Ma OJ, Mateer JR, Ogata M, et al. Prospective analysis of a rapid trauma ultrasound examination performed by emergency physicians. J Trauma. 1995; 38:879-85.
2. Wherrett LJ, Boulanger BR, McLellan BA, et al. Hypotension after blunt abdominal trauma: the role of emergent abdominal sonography in surgical triage. J Trauma. 1996;41:815-20.
3. Schiavone WA, Ghumrawi BK, Catalano DR, et al. The use of echocardiography in the emergency management of nonpenetraing traumatic cardiac rupture. Ann Emerg Med. 1991;20:1248-50.
4. Rozycki GS, Feliciano DV, Ochsner MG, et al. The role of ultrasound in patients with possible penetrating cardiac wounds: a prospective multicenter study. J Trauma. 1999;46:543-52.




SonoTips & Tricks: The upper quadrants of the FAST scan #FOAMed

Happy Monday everyone! I mean, Tuesday!! Ugh! Well, if you were wondering where I’ve been, or even if you didn’t notice, I’ve had a busy couple weeks. From the many shifts that was full of interesting ultrasound cases (which you know I’ll share with you soon!) to graduating another stellar group of emergency residents, credentialing them in EM Ultrasound after 3 great years of training and a competency test, and hopefully soon to hear about the amazing pick-ups and lives saved in their future careers with the use of their great clinical judgement and bedside ultrasound. Im sure you love those busy weeks as much as we do, so i thought I would post something that would be a bit of positivity and highlight a group that I believe in: ACEP Ultrasound Section.

I’ll start with what I’ve said before: “2013 is the YEAR OF ULTRASOUND – and for good reason – there are only a few tools that give us such immediate information that can save a life. The ACEP US Section is the go-to site for everything you want to know about starting an US program, credentialing in ultrasound, the policies and politics, and is the home of SonoGuide - an amazing educational resource for bedside ultrasound, and the EMSONO: Ultrasound Test. It is also where we add our entries for their newsletter that goes over tips and tricks, cases, and all things ultrasound in the news. We recently wrote an article for the ACEP Ultrasound Section Newsletter - which is available for all members of the ACEP US Section – and I highly recommend becoming a member – it’s totally worth it. To continue to entice you, i will include our latest entry below – with a few additions in the end. For a set of links to online education in bedside ultrasound, go here. And, for our last entry into the Newsletter on Social Media in EM Ultrasound and the amazing tools out there to learn it for free, go here.”

Now, let’s talk about the FAST scan. It was a TRUE pleasure to record a podcast recently with Dr. Scott Weingart (aka, my hero) on EMCrit (twitter: EMCrit), and writing this article with our ultrasound fellow, Dr. Viveta Lobo, describes some of what was spoken about.

The focused assessment with sonography in trauma, or FAST exam, is undoubtedly the most widely used bedside ultrasound application in emergency medicine. With its incorporation into the ATLS trauma protocol, the FAST exam is performed immediately after the primary survey simultaneously with other resuscitative efforts. It is also a component of the RUSH protocol for patients with unexplained shock. Trauma patients often present with multiple injuries, and significant bleeding can occur without obvious changes in vitals signs. Medical patients can present intoxicated, altered, delirious, or demented all of which will limit the physical exam. The primary purpose of the FAST exam is to rapidly detect free fluid and hemorrhage in the peritoneal, pericardial and pleural spaces. There may be difficulties in obtaining adequate views, and we hope to discuss a few pearls to minimize them.

As with all ultrasound applications, familiarity with technique and patient anatomy, knowledge of common pitfalls, practice, and appreciating technical limitations are important errors to avoid. In general, the FAST exam is not “fast” – it can take up to 3-4 minutes to perform.1 The patient should be supine (or Trendelenberg) with low ambient light, with a low frequency probe used (the phased array probe provides the additional benefit of visualizing between the ribs and getting into the subxiphoid region more easily for the cardiac view). Even with the best technique, the FAST scan will only visualize 25 cc or more of thoracic free fluid and 500cc or more of intraperitoneal free fluid.2

The Right Upper Quadrant (RUQ)


The RUQ is the most sensitive region for free fluid in comparison to the other FAST views.3 In my view, the RUQ should be divided into 3 zones.

1. Above/Below the diaphragm,
2. Morrison’s pouch (hepato-renal recess)
3. Paracolic gutter: Around the inferior hepatic edge/inferior pole of kidney

The key is to know your landmarks, and STOP, STAY and widely FAN through each zone well, adjusting your depth as necessary to keep the area of interest centered on your screen. Click Here for a Video. Start high to stay and fan (anterior to posterior) around the diaphragm. Then, SLIDE down into another rib space, stop, stay and fan around the entire kidney. An additional rib space may be necessary to evaluate the paracolic gutter.

Tips for RUQ Diaphragm View :

The liver may be easily seen, but the diaphragm can be more difficult, especially if it’s behind a rib shadow. Have the patient take in a deep breath. This lowers the diaphragm into your view and allows visualization of the thoracic cavity for hemothorax/pleural fluid as well as sub-diaphragmatic peritoneal fluid. Visualization of the spine shadow travelling in the lower part of the screen will normally stop at the diaphragm with a mirror image artifact illustrated in the thoracic cavity.

2-TT Imagespineshadow

However, if the spine is able to been seen above the diaphragm– this is pathognomonic of pleural fluid, and also known as the “V-line.”4Click Here for a Video.

3-TT Imagevline

Tips for RUQ Morrison’s Pouch (Hepato-Renal Recess) View:

If rib shadows get in the way, using the same trick above of patient inspiration can help. There are also a few false positive “traps” here.

First, the double line sign, seen around the kidney capsule as hyperechoic double lines with hypoechoic material in between, can be mistaken for free fluid.5 However, free fluid will not be surrounded by hyperechoic lines and will not be in a contained structure.

4-TT ImageVine
Second, edge artifact from the liver/kidney interface occurs due to ultrasound physics and sound wave transmission between structures of different densities. It is seen as a dark thin line tracing off the edge of this interface extending to the bottom of the screen. Click Here for a Video. This differentiates it from free fluid, which will not extend past the liver.Click Here for a Video.


Tips for RUQ Paracolic Gutter View:

This is where free fluid can be seen first amongst all the different zones of the RUQ view.6The most important tip is to not forget to view this area. You will often have to slide your probe more inferior to obtain this view. Decrease the depth to look around the hepatic edge and inferior kidney pole, and evaluate the region with slow fanning. Click Here for a Video.

6-TT ImageParaCOlicFF

The Left Upper Quadrant (LUQ)

The LUQ is less sensitive for free fluid than the RUQ for varying reasons. First, the LUQ is opposite the side of the sonographer, which can make it technically difficult to obtain an adequate view. Also, the spleen is smaller than the liver and, thus, the acoustic window is lessened.

7-TT Imagestomachsabotage

The stomach commonly obstructs the view as well. The LUQ should also be divided into 3 zones:

1. Above/Below the diaphragm,
2. Spleno-Renal recess,
3. Paracolic gutter: Around the inferior pole of kidney

Tips for the LUQ view
In addition to the various RUQ view tips and tricks as stated above, the LUQ diaphragm view also requires tips to avoid “stomach sabotage”. There are two ways around this: oblique the probe to have the indicator angled toward the gurney and/or slide your probe to the posterior-axillary line away from the plane of the stomach.

8-TT ImageLUQFFAbove

Look out for Part 2 of FAST Tips and Tricks, in the next newsletter where we talk about maximizing your cardiac views.

For additional material, images, and cases on the E-FAST, go here.

Another great review of FAST with excellent references here.

And, of course, saving the best for last – Cliff Reid and The Ultrasound Podcast discusses how to “earn your vaginal stripes” about the EFAST – go here.

1.     Boulanger BR, McLellan BA, Brenneman FD, et al. Emergent abdominal sonography as a screening test in a new diagnostic algorithm for blunt trauma.
J Trauma. Jun 1996;40(6):867-    874.
2.     Branney SW, Wolfe RE, Moore EE, et al. Quantitative sensitivity of ultrasound in detecting free intraperitoneal fluidJ Trauma. Aug 1995;39(2):375-380.
3.     Chambers JA, Pilbrow WJ. Ultrasound in abdominal trauma: an alternative to peritoneal lavageArchEmerg Med. Mar 1988;5(1):26-33.
4.     Atkinson P, Milne J, Loubani O, et al. The V-line: a sonographic aid for the confirmation of pleural fluidCrit Ultrasound J. 2012;4(1):19.
5.     Sierzenski PR, Schofer JM, Bauman MJ, et al.
The double-line sign: A false positive finding on the focused assessment with sonography for trauma (FAST) examinationJ Emerg Med. 2011;40(2):188-189.
6.     Rozycki GS, Ochsner MG, Feliciano DV, et al. Early detection of hemoperitoneum by ultrasound examination of the right upper quadrant: a multicenter study.
J Trauma. Nov 1998;45 (5):878-883.

SonoWorkshop: Pearls (and more!) from the Stanford CME Ultrasound Course #FOAMed

Once again, our Stanford Ultrasound Workshop was a huge success. Why? Our instructors were phenomenal and from different specialties! Our participants were faculty from emergency medicine, internal medicine, critical care, surgery, and pediatrics! The ultrasound tips and tricks just kept on coming from our lecturers  - and, everyone laughed at our jokes, which always makes things great. As always, I like to provide those tips and tricks to all of you (and maybe even some of the jokes), so that you can feel like you were there too!


Dr. Sarah Williams – First, the coordinator for the Stanford CME workshop welcomes everyone with a Star Wars phrase “Learning you are….May the force be with you, young padawans!” – always goes to a great start. She is also the creator of the Stanford Ultrasound Program and current Associate Residency Director (and the person who was kind enough to put up with my quirks and jokes to hire me as a fellow years ago). Her pearls on the EFAST: detects >600 cc (intraperitoneal) fluid, look around inferior pole in RUQ and subdiaphragm area of LUQ (free fluid develops first there!), it’s not good for pelvic fx/injuries (pelvic bleeding into pelvic cavity, and retroperitoneal, bowel gas obstructs view, bladder may be empty limiting visualization), it’s not done fast- FAST is part of RUSH, but dont rush the FAST. Look for your kidney, then look above it, around it and below it (thoracic fluid, morison’s pouch, paracolic gutter). FAST LUQ: higher, spleen smaller, stomach big -place knuckles on gurney, oblique probe in plane to ribs, free fluid can be between diaphragm & spleen.  #ultrasound detects 15-20cc fluid in thoracic cavity, better than chest Xray. Have patient take deep breath to lower diaphragm. The longer the patient is supine (or trendelenberg) the better, so if you have a walk-in trauma, perform serial FAST scan. SX view: the liver is the heart’s protector, be sure to see it in view- it allows you to see the 4chambers. gas is heart’s enemy - if gas gets in the way, you cannot see the liver: slide probe laterally to patient’s right, get that liver in your view. For pneumothorax eval – use linear probe, find your ribs, ID pleur liine, decr gain (brightness) to see sliding better. Start high in midclav line, indicator to head – - then travel thru mult rib spaces to estimate size.


Dr. Laleh Gharahbaghian (since i cannot speak about myself, I let someone else write this part and promised I wouldn’t change anything – let us pray…): “With her usual stylish self, walking all around the workshop, giving hi-fives to everyone in her path, her dance moves came in handy as she spoke (can you point her out in this video from the mid 1990s of her past job?)  - She is the current Director of the Stanford Ultrasound Program and Fellowship her pearls can be found below: Her pearls of Aorta US: use large footprint probe, if get gas, press down, takes time – as if you were reducing a hernia; start in the subxiphoid region, travel down thru to iliacs. Most AAA are infrarenal and may seem normal in size at sx and get large once you travel down. Doesnt evaluate for rupture – most AAA leak/rupture retroperitoneal – not detected by US (your FAST is neg) – correlate clinically to your patient symptoms and vital signs. Her pearls on Renal US: main indication: hydronpehrosis, but pay attention to everything (outside to inside); eval both kidneys AND bladder- without bladder, you wont know if the bilateral hydro may just be that they have to pee. If empty bladder, and bilateral hydro, then possible mass (if not chronic). If patient is >50yo with flank pain, dont forget to eval the aorta as well. Start outside to inside for pathology – free fluid around kidney, cyst from kidney, mass on kidney, stone within kidney, hydronephrosis. Her pearls on Gallbladder US: start in the subxiphoid region, indicator to patient’s right, use liver as window, fan thru it medial to lateral to find GB. Then, fan/eval in transverse & longitudinal planes. Fanning thru the GB is key- there’ll be sections where it looks normal, then you fan & a stone comes into view! See if the stone is mobile by turning patient and re-scanning to see if moved. Think of the number 4 (or multiples of it) with measurements: width 4cm, length 8-10cm, anterior GB wall <4mm, CBD 4mm at 40yrs old (adding 1mm for every decade beyond).


Dr. Phil Perera – our newest addition to the Stanford US team serving as the Director of US Research and the Associate Program Director gave quite an engaging talk on Echo and the RUSH protocol, putting it to action! As is highlighted by his Soundbytes website that is a free source of lectures for your viewing pleasure, he would keep asking the audience whether they would involve their consultants, if they would “write home to mom about this?!” The funny part is that one of the audience members responded with “I wouldn’t have to, she would call me before I get a chance.” Another participant concluded the point by saying, “You must work in a profitable community hospital.” Ah – gotta love the sarcasm! Phil continued his talk discussing when you should act fast by going through RUSH cases, giving props to others who also study and educate on resuscitation ultrasound. His pearls on EchoPSL view is the favorite – lets you evaluate right ventricle size, left ventricle size and contractility, pericardial effusion, pleural effusion and mitral valve regurge; Echo should be done with IVC when thinking about fluid resuscitation – if hyperdynamic -can tolerate fluid; if hypocontractile, not so much; Echo can eval aorta too! PSL view visualizes ascending aorta and descending aorta; AP4 view shows descending aorta – look for aneurysm/flap. Intraperitoneal fluid and pleural effusion can be mistaken for pericardial effusion – know where your pericardium is! Pleual effusion in PSL view travels behind descending aorta; pericardial effusion travels in front of descending aorta. AP4 great for comparing RV and LV chamber size, contractility of RV and LV. To get the P4 view, slide lateral after parasternal views until get to apex, angle to body center. His pearls on RUSH: Case that inspired him: 67yo acute SOB, in shock h/o COPD/CHF/HTN, CXR neg, ultrasound showing the cause to not be sepsis, but cardiogenic shock. RUSH provides the answer to : sepsis? cardiogenic? hypovolemic? hypervolemic? tamponade? PE? trauma? tension ptx? AAA? First & most important is the cardiac echo: the PUMP, that’s why it’s first – lots of info from a single cardiac view (PSL). For semi-quantitative contractility eval: fractional shortening & EPSS are measured – PSL must be at approp long section.  tamponade on #ultrasound - RV collapse during when it should fill (diastole)-also can see RA scalloping -do pericardiocentesis. pericardiocentesis: US studies show having pt in left lateral decubitus position & an apical view better for removing pericardial effusion than traditional SX technique. IVC – can use M mode to measure in both transv and long view 2cm from RA – can use your internal jugular as an alternate. Lung ultrasound – B Lines – think of fluids and your resuscitation when evaluating etiology of shock: FALLS protocol by Lichtenstein. Although rare, if your EKG has STEMI, do an ECHO – make sure its not a dissection before you start heparin!

IMG_1091 and Screen Shot 2013-03-01 at 1.41.03 PM

Dr. Zoe Howard (our Director of Medical Student and Resident US Education) and Dr. John Kugler (coordinator for the internal medicine US elective and global health US instructor) spoke about the many awesome ways ultrasound can help with procedural guidance. The dynamic duo had awesome videos to assist in their lecture and went through the many procedures that can be done with US guidance. Their pearls on Procedural US: On central line access – first look for the vein before you prep the area; it’s possible that the vein you want (or the location of the vein you want) is not the best vein for the procedure. Your indicator should be to your left, the screen dot should be on your left, that way left means LEFT when you’re guiding your needle tip to the vein. On lumbar puncture – do it when you can’t feel the landmarks, when you only have one attempt, when you’ve already had one unsuccessful attempt. Use the ALiEM trick with a paperclip for drawing the straight line. On thoracentesis and paracentesis – make sure you view the area where there is at least 2cm of fluid between the probe and the lung/bowel to avoid lung/bowel puncture – it may not always be where you think. On pericardiocentesis – look for where the fluid is most, patient to left lateral decubitus position, and you’ll find that SX is not the best anymore. On nerve blockslearn it, do it, and teach it! Your patients deserve it! Use the in-plane approach to visualize your entire needle, and use the dental syringe holder to have control over your syringe.

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We then had 8 different hands-on stations with 11 different instructors (and 4 chickens used for central lines deserving of props, and lots of other simulators as you will see in the below pics)!  Including those described above, we also had the above instructors (from left to right, top to bottom (hyperlinks take you to “other” images that come up when you google search their names)- Dr. Viveta Lobo – our current US fellow and future Director of the Visiting Scholars Program, Dr. Brita Zaia – our past US fellow and current Kaiser San Francisco Ultasound Director, Dr. Darrel Sutijono – US fellowship trained faculty at Kaiser Santa Clara and new to twitter and #FOAMed and the FOAM movement, Dr. Manish Asarvala – US fellowship trained at UCSF and faculty at Kaiser Santa Clara. Dr. Yoshi Mitarai – an emergency medicine/critical care specialist who recently saved a life while at the gym doing Zumba (yup, you read that right), Dr. Suzanne Lippert - a specialist in nerve blocks and international/global health who is faculty at Stanford EM. Dr. Jennifer Newberry – an MD JD (so, super smart) and one of our senior EM residents who is staying on as a fellow in healthcare/ public policy.

IMG_1094IMG_1095 IMG_1097 IMG_1099 IMG_1100 IMG_1102 IMG_1103 IMG_1105

SonoTip&Trick: “I can’t get a good RUQ view for my FAST!” – Really? Well, try this…

The “F” in FAST does not mean “fast”; it stands for “focused”. The good thing is that everyone agrees to that, but we so often forget. This week has turned into the right upper quadrant (RUQ) view of the FAST week! I actually don’t mind that at all and I love it – as too many incomplete FAST scans are done (and accepted). It’s tragic, actually. I get it, and I’ve been there – you feel rushed because you either have too many patients to see, others need the ultrasound machine, or your consultants or surgeons are yelling at you to hurry up because they want to roll the patient or get that life-saving chest radiograph (don’t get me started!). It needs to be a complete, deliberate, and dedicated study. You should know when and how to do the FAST, especially the RUQ as it is one of the most accurate, and how to do it well. After having shown you several cases and images of real patients, some (including me) still have a hard time getting the perfect views of each of the sections of the RUQ (yes, there are “sections” of the RUQ) even though everything is done the right way. Well, thankfully, there are some little tricks to improve your image quality  - so that you feel confident about telling that consultant the FAST results with your voice confident, back straight, chest out and shoulders back. You may even want to add a “booya” at the end of it. Continue reading

SonoTip&Trick: “I can’t get a good apical 4-chamber view.” Really? well try this…

It can be one of the most difficult views to obtain. Why? Well, you may need to go through some lung tissue, you dont really know where the apex is, and it’s never where it’s supposed to be…. among others. Well I’m hoping to make it a bit easier for you.

 (Long Live Netter!)

Continue reading

SonoTip&Trick: “I can’t get a good parasternal long view.” Really? well, try this…

When you have that bad trauma case or that sick patient and you’re trying to assess their cardiac contractility or for pericardial effusion/tamponade, you try the subxiphoid (SX) view first, but despite the tricks outlined in a prior post, you still can’t get it. So, you move to the parasternal long (PSL) view on the left anterior chest, at the 3rd-4th intercostal space:

… and still can’t get a good view, and you think: “What am I doing wrong?!!!” – and then you think of just giving up…. well, let me give you a few tricks that may help. If the patient is able to turn on their left side, then great, if not, it’s ok. Continue reading

SonoTip&Trick: “I can’t tell if there is normal lung sliding.” Here’s a quick tip….

All of us have had that case where we had a thoracic trauma victim or an acutely short of breath patient who we want to evaluate for pneumothorax. We use the ultrasound machine since it’s quick and more accurate than chest XRay. We place the linear probe on the anterior chest wall, indicator toward the head at the 2nd intercostal space and midclavicular line, and see this:

Continue reading

SonoTip&Trick: “I cant see the aorta, there’s too much gas.” Well did you try this?…

It’s frustrating when you’re trying to see the abdominal aorta, and there is gas scatter throughout your screen in all regions except the bifurcation. I had someone on our ultrasound elective say to me one day, “Can’t we just say “Pull my finger!” or have them let one go and it get better for us?” Well, definitely would not be better for us, and it also wouldn’t help your image acquisition on the screen either – I know, bummer. But there are 3 things you can do to try to improve your image acquisition: Continue reading

SonoTip&Trick: “I can’t tell if it’s a pleural or pericardial effusion.” Really? well here’s a tip…

There was a case a few years back that got a lot of attention. 56 year old hypotensive and the providers could have sworn that he had a pericardial effusion, and thus tamponade because they saw the image below on their AP4 and PSL views. They called the cath lab and the cardiology fellow who also performed their echo thought the same and set it up for the patient to get a pericardial window as he was… well….”unstabley stable” – as one of my mentors would say.


Continue reading

SonoTip and Trick: “See” the eye better…Hey ‘bright’ eyes: no pain, no ‘GAIN’!!

Ok, so the “no pain, no gain” doesn’t really make too much sense as the point of this tip and trick is for better visualization of the eyeball : INCREASE THE GAIN! Puts a whole new meaning to the term “Bright eyes.” When you have a patient with painful or painless vision loss, unilateral visual field deficit, trauma to the eye, or if you have a suspicion of a foreign body in the globe – increase the gain – yup, that’s right. Even though the eye is filled with fluid, and fluid is the lover of ultrasound allowing better visualization of structures deep to it on the screen, it can be difficult to visualize WITHIN that fluid filled structure. Lets see some examples: Continue reading