The Diagnostic and Therapeutic Impact of Point-of-Care Ultrasonography in the Intensive Care Unit

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Purpose:In light of point-of-care ultrasonography’s (POCUS) recent rise in popularity, assessment of its impact on diagnosis and treatment in the intensive care unit (ICU) is of key importance.Methods:Ultrasound examinations were collected through an ultrasound reporting software in 6 multidisciplinary ICU units from 3 university hospitals in Canada and the United States. This database included a self-reporting questionnaire to assess the impact of the ultrasound findings on diagnosis and treatment. We retrieved the results of these questionnaires and analyzed them in relation to which organs were assessed during the ultrasound examination.Results:One thousand two hundred and fifteen ultrasound studies were performed on 968 patients. Intensivists considered the image quality of cardiac ultrasound to be adequate in 94.7% compared to 99.7% for general ultrasound (P < .001). The median duration of a cardiac examination was 10 (interquartile range [IQR] 10) minutes compared to 5 (IQR 8) minutes for a general examination (P < .001). Overall, ultrasound findings led to a change in diagnosis in 302 studies (24.9%) and to a change in management in 534 studies (44.0%). A change in diagnosis or management was reported more frequently for cardiac ultrasound than for general ultrasound (108 [37.1%] vs 127 [16.5%], P < .001) and (170 [58.4%] vs 270 [35.1%], P < .001). Assessment of the inferior vena cava for fluid status emerged as the critical care ultrasound application associated with the greatest impact on management.Conclusion:Point-of-care ultrasonography has the potential to optimize care of the critically ill patients when added to the clinical armamentarium of the intensive care physician.

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