In the Feb 2013 issue of Chest, Oveland et al studied porcine models, introducing air at incremental levels to identify if thoracic ultrasound is as accurate as CT scanning for the detection pneumothorax progression in the intubated patient. They found that “the accuracy of thoracic ultrasonography for identifying the lung point (and, thus, the PTX extent) was comparable to that of CT imaging. These clinically relevant results suggest that ultrasonography may be safe and accurate in monitoring PTX progression during positive pressure ventilation.”
“Background: Although thoracic ultrasonography accurately determines the size and extent of occult pneumothoraces (PTXs) in spontaneously breathing patients, there is uncertainty about patients receiving positive pressure ventilation. We compared the lung point (ie, the area where the collapsed lung still adheres to the inside of the chest wall) using the two modalities ultrasonography and CT scanning to determine whether ultrasonography can be used reliably to assess PTX progression in a positive-pressure-ventilated porcine model.
Methods: Air was introduced in incremental steps into five hemithoraces in three intubated porcine models. The lung point was identified on ultrasound imaging and referenced against the lateral limit of the intrapleural air space identified on the CT scans. The distance from the sternum to the lung point (S-LP) was measured on the CT scans and correlated to the insufflated air volume.
Results: The mean total difference between the 131 ultrasound and CT scan lung points was 6.8 mm (SD, 7.1 mm; range, 0.0-29.3 mm). A mixed-model regression analysis showed a linear relationship between the S-LP distances and the PTX volume (P < .001).
Conclusions: In an experimental porcine model, we found a linear relation between the PTX size and the lateral position of the lung point. The accuracy of thoracic ultrasonography for identifying the lung point (and, thus, the PTX extent) was comparable to that of CT imaging. These clinically relevant results suggest that ultrasonography may be safe and accurate in monitoring PTX progression during positive pressure ventilation.”
Full article found here.
To see the lung point, you visualize the pleural line using the linear probe (indicator toward the patient’s head) starting from anterior chest wall (2nd intercostal space, mid-clavicular line) to inferior-lateral chest wall, and look out for the area where the lack of lung sliding or comet tail artifacts reverts back to normal lung sliding with comet tail artifacts. Blaivas, et al, studied this, showing that bedside ultrasound can detect size of pneumothorax through identification of the lung point location. Below is a video fo the lung point: