Purpose of review: Electrical impedance tomography (EIT) is a noninvasive, radiation-free monitoring tool that allows real-time imaging of ventilation. The purpose of this article is to discuss the fundamentals of EIT and to review the use of EIT in critical care patients.
Recent findings: In addition to its established role in describing the distribution of alveolar ventilation, EIT has been shown to be a useful tool to detect lung collapse and monitor lung recruitment, both regionally and on a global basis. EIT has also been used to diagnose with high sensitivity incident pneumothoraces during mechanical ventilation. Additionally, with injection of hypertonic saline as a contrast agent, it is possible to estimate ventilation/perfusion distributions.
Summary: EIT is cheap, noninvasive and allows continuous monitoring of ventilation. It is gaining acceptance as a valuable monitoring tool for the care of critical patients.