Bedside ultrasound in the pediatric emergency department

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Purpose of review

Emergency bedside ultrasound has been used by emergency and critical care physicians for over two decades. Its use has grown rapidly in emergency medicine and the range of diagnostic and procedural applications has continued to expand; only recently, however, has this tool been embraced by pediatric emergency and critical care physicians. As this technology develops and becomes more available pediatricians should understand its uses and limitations.

Recent findings

Use of emergency bedside ultrasound for victims of trauma and for procedural applications such as central venous access are well established in adults. Recent published studies suggest that utilizing bedside ultrasound for these purposes may be beneficial in pediatric emergency medicine. Other reports portend future pediatric applications such as assessment of volume status and dehydration, fracture identification and reduction, and aiding in the performance of lumbar punctures.


In a review of the literature, it is clear that emergency bedside ultrasound has a role in pediatric emergency and critical care medicine. Much more research is needed, however, to determine which sonographic assessments are of the greatest value. Collaborative efforts will likely be needed to establish definitive applications.

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