The use of ultrasound in obstetric anesthesia

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The current review considers an array of recent applications for point-of-care ultrasound in clinical practice including diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that may be relevant for the obstetric anesthesiologist. The rapid advancement of technology and clinical applications for bedside ultrasound in obstetric anesthesiology requires an appraisal of the limitations and uses.

Recent findings

The review presents the most recent literature describing ultrasound-guided airway assessments, airway management, cricothyroidotomy, transthoracic echocardiography, gastric volume assessments, point-of-care lung ultrasound diagnoses, intracranial pressure assessments, vascular access, neuraxial blocks, and transversus abdominis plane blocks. Each ultrasound technique is presented along with the most recent advances in knowledge and some limitations to integration of these ultrasound skills in clinical practice.

Summary

Anesthesiologists have clearly embraced this facile versatile tool for bedside diagnostics and procedures. One limitation to widespread adoption is availability of suitable ultrasound skills and technology. Many of these ultrasound techniques have not yet established clear patient benefit, yet the sheer breadth of ultrasound techniques reported in the past few years demonstrate that our colleagues are becoming more proficient. It is important to follow the development of this emerging field to be aware of limitations to learning these skills and their potential clinical benefit. Proficiency in some of these point-of-care ultrasound techniques may become prerequisite for obstetric anesthesiologists to provide the best care.

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