Acquiring and maintaining point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) competence for anesthesiologists

Can J Anaesth. 2018 Apr;65(4):427-436. doi: 10.1007/s12630-018-1049-7. Epub 2018 Jan 11.


Purpose: Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) involves the bedside use of ultrasound to answer specific diagnostic questions and to assess real-time physiologic responses to treatment. Although POCUS has become a well-established resource for emergency and critical care physicians, anesthesiologists are still working to obtain POCUS skills and to incorporate them into routine practice. This review defines the benefits of POCUS to anesthesia practice, identifies challenges to establishing POCUS in routine anesthesia care, and offers solutions to help guide its incorporation going forward.

Principal findings: Benefits to POCUS include improving the sensitivity and specificity of the physical examination and helping to guide patient treatment. The challenges to establishing POCUS as a standard in anesthesia practice include developing and maintaining competence. There is a need to develop standards of practice and a common language between specialties to facilitate training and create guidelines regarding patient management.

Conclusions: Presently, our specialty requires consensus by expert stakeholders to address issues of competence, certification, development of standards and terminology, and the management of unexpected diagnoses. To promote POCUS competency in our discipline, we support its incorporation into anesthesiology curricula and training programs and the continuing professional development of POCUS-related activities at a national level.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiologists
  • Anesthesiology / education*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Humans
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Ultrasonics / education*
  • Ultrasonography / instrumentation
  • Ultrasonography / methods*