Thoracic ultrasonography for the pulmonary specialist

Chest. 2011 Nov;140(5):1332-1341. doi: 10.1378/chest.11-0348.


Thoracic ultrasonography is a noninvasive and readily available imaging modality that has important applications in pulmonary medicine outside of the ICU. It allows the clinician to diagnose a variety of thoracic disorders at the point of care. Ultrasonography is useful in imaging lung consolidation, pleural-based masses and effusions, pneumothorax, and diaphragmatic dysfunction. It can identify complex or loculated effusions and be useful in planning treatment. Identifying intrathoracic mass lesions can guide sampling by aspiration and biopsy. This article summarizes thoracic ultrasonography applications for the pulmonary specialist, related procedural codes, and reimbursement. The major concepts are illustrated with cases. These case summaries are enhanced with online supplemental videos and chest radiograph, chest CT scan, and ultrasound correlation.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Medicine*
  • Reimbursement Mechanisms
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography / instrumentation
  • Ultrasonography / methods*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / instrumentation
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / methods