Transthoracic ultrasound for the pulmonologist
Purpose of review: Transthoracic ultrasound has received increased interest from chest physicians in recent years. Modern ultrasound devices are user friendly, inexpensive, lightweight, and portable, which makes them suited for outpatient settings as well as for bedside investigation of the severely ill. Ultrasound is set to become a practical and essential tool for the pulmonologist in the near future. Recent findings: An ever-increasing number of articles are aimed at describing and refining how ultrasound can be utilised by chest physicians in daily practice. Only basic ultrasound skills are required to assess pleural effusions and perform ultrasound-guided thoracocentesis. Sonographic assistance with insertion of chest drains as well as identification or biopsy of thoracic masses are more complex, and advanced skills are required for the investigation of pneumothorax and thromboembolic disease. Summary: The current literature documents the progress in the application of ultrasound for the practicing chest physician. In this article the authors describe the most recent developments and follow up with some simple but essential advice for the novice venturing into chest ultrasound. © 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.