POCUS in perioperative medicine: a North American perspective

Crit Ultrasound J. 2017 Oct 9;9(1):19. doi: 10.1186/s13089-017-0075-y.


Ultrasound (US) performed at the point of care has found fertile ground in perioperative medicine. In the hands of anesthesiologists, transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) has become established as a powerful diagnostic and monitoring tool in the perioperative care of cardiac and non-cardiac patients. A number of point-of-care US (POCUS) applications are relevant to perioperative care, including airway, cardiac, lung and gastric US. Although guidelines exist to define the scope of practice for basic and advanced TEE, there remains a lack of such guidelines for perioperative point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS), despite a number of recent calls for action in the academic anesthesia community. POCUS training has been integrated into anesthesia residency curricula in Canada and the United States of America (USA). However, a nation-wide curriculum is still lacking. Many limitations to the development of perioperative POCUS curricula exist, including the need to define the scope of practice and design integrated longitudinal learning approaches. The main anesthesiologist societies in both the USA and Canada are promoting the development of guidelines and have introduced POCUS courses into their national conferences. Although bedside US imaging has been integrated into the curricula of many medical schools in North America, the need for specific national guidelines for the training and practice of POCUS in the perioperative setting by anesthesiologists is crucial to the further development of POCUS in perioperative medicine.

Keywords: Guidelines; Hand-held ultrasound devices; Perioperative medicine; Point-of-care ultrasound.