Pulmonary embolism (PE) is the most serious and life-threatening clinical presentation of venous thromboembolism, and difficult to diagnose. Triple point-of-care-ultrasonography (POCUS) of the lung, heart and leg veins is a multiorgan approach that may help to evaluate patients suspected of having PE, in combination with existing protocols and computed tomographic pulmonary angiography (CTPA). We present the case of a 26-year-old man with sudden onset of dyspnoea and swelling of the leg with a Well's score of 9. With CTPA unavailable at the time of presentation, triple POCUS showed subpleural consolidations and a venous thrombus in a popliteal vein. A diagnosis of deep vein thrombosis with PE was made and the appropriate treatment was started immediately. Although triple POCUS has less sensitivity and specificity than CTPA, it could be very useful in some clinical settings.
Learning points: In a patient with suspected pulmonary embolism, the best diagnostic strategy is to combine clinical assessment, plasma D-dimer measurement and computed tomographic pulmonary angiography (CTPA).Triple point-of-care ultrasonography of the lung, heart and leg veins may improve clinical assessment of pulmonary embolism if CTPA is unavailable or contraindicated.Point-of-care ultrasonography should be incorporated as the fifth pillar of the physical examination.
Keywords: Point-of-care ultrasonography; deep vein thrombosis; pulmonary embolism; triple POCUS.