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:
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
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.
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
Whenever you are performing an E-FAST exam on your trauma patient or a thoracic US in those with unexplained shock or shortness of breath, your sphincter tightens when you see fluid in the belly or when there is no lung sliding. Ever placed your probe on the left anterior chest wall and have been surprised after noticing there is no lung sliding? Or, that you see this weird movement of “the lung” on the left side, which surely isn’t normal and definitely deeper than the pleural line and you think, “There’s a left pneumothorax!” Well, guess what guys and gals, it just could be the heart. Continue reading
Given this memorial day weekend, and the sacrifice of our troops, lets discuss something that the military has used for years – and for good reason. US-guided nerve blocks are becoming more and more utilized in our EDs. Especially when we have the elderly patient who is in severe pain from a humeral fracture or a femoral neck fracture, and you’d rather not have to watch (and chase) their blood pressure after giving systemic opiates. It is also a great resource in resource-poor areas, like the aftermath of the disaster of the Haiti earthquake. This is all clearly discussed in the article in Annals of Emergency Medicine this month by Drs. Suzanne Lippert, Arun Nagdev, Mike Stone, Andrew Herring, and Robert Norris. Continue reading
You get a patient who has gradual onset of shortness of breath with a history of cancer, a patient with sudden severe exertional chest pressure and new orthopnea, a patient with known pericarditis with worse pain or breathing difficulty, or a trauma patient with a penetrating stab wound to the chest and you want to evaluate whether they have a pericardial effusion, signs of tamponade, or poor contractility through a bedside echo, but you just can’t seem to obtain a great subxiphoid (SX) view. The SX view of the heart seems like it would be easy to obtain. I mean, it is right there! – right by the probe, and the patient is alive so you know he has a heart! Well, sometimes it’s not so easy. There are several reasons for this: your probe positioning, not seeing the liver, and the patient’s thoracic cage.