Chest ultrasound in practice: a review of utility in the clinical setting

Intern Med J. 2012 Aug;42(8):856-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2012.02816.x.


Clinician-performed chest ultrasound is rapidly entering clinical practice in the fields of intensive care, respiratory medicine and acute medicine. Ultrasound is clearly useful in the diagnosis and characterisation of pleural diseases. It is also critical in improving the safety of pleural interventions. More recently, attention has also focused on the use of lung ultrasound. While the normal aerated lung is not well imaged by ultrasound, lung pathology reaching the pleura often provides an 'acoustic window' for a number of lung conditions. Lung ultrasound is useful to diagnose pneumothorax, interstitial and alveolar lung abnormalities, and pleurally based lung masses. There is some evidence that integrating routine chest ultrasound into clinical practice has benefit in the emergency and intensive care settings. In the future, chest ultrasound is likely to become an essential physician skill, and training requirements are evolving in light of current developments.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pleura / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pleural Diseases / diagnosis
  • Pleural Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pleural Diseases / therapy
  • Ultrasonography