Introduction: With the development of the commercial space industry, growing numbers of spaceflight participants will engage in activities with a risk for pulmonary injuries, including pneumothorax, ebullism, and decompression sickness, as well as other concomitant trauma. Medical triage capabilities for mishaps involving pulmonary conditions have not been systematically reviewed. Recent studies have advocated the use of point-of-care ultrasound to screen for lung injury or illness. The operational utility of portable ultrasound systems in disaster relief and other austere settings may be relevant to commercial spaceflight.
Methods: A systematic review of published literature was conducted concerning the use of point-of-care pulmonary ultrasound techniques in austere environments, including suggested examination protocols for triage and diagnosis.
Results: Recent studies support the utility of pulmonary ultrasound examinations when performed by skilled operators, and comparability of the results to computed tomography and chest radiography for certain conditions, with important implications for trauma management in austere environments.
Discussion: Pulmonary injury and illness are among the potential health risks facing spaceflight participants. Implementation of point-of-care ultrasound protocols could aid in the rapid diagnosis, triage, and treatment of such conditions. Though operator-dependent, ultrasound, with proper training, experience, and equipment, could be a valuable tool in the hands of a first responder supporting remote spaceflight operations.Johansen BD, Blue RS, Castleberry TL, Antonsen EL, Vanderploeg JM. Point-of-care ultrasound for pulmonary concerns in remote spaceflight triage environments. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2018; 89(2):122-129.