The use of point-of-care functional ultrasound to assess cardiovascular function is gaining interest in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The modality has been in use in adult intensive care units for some time and has often guided management. Clinical signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, and capillary refill time, which physicians traditionally have relied upon, provide limited insight into the adequacy of systemic blood flow and organ perfusion. Enhanced cardiovascular imaging and hemodynamic evaluation offers novel insights regarding the contribution of the ductus arteriosus, myocardial performance and pulmonary hemodynamics to ongoing clinical instability. In addition, it allows more accurate delineation of the nature of the underlying disease process and facilitates the evaluation of response to therapeutic intervention. This review examines the potential clinical role of ultrasound methods in the NICU; specifically, its applications in different disease states, and how the technology may be introduced safely in the NICU.
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