A narrative review of diaphragmatic ultrasound in pediatric critical care

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2021 Aug;56(8):2471-2483. doi: 10.1002/ppul.25518. Epub 2021 Jun 3.


The use of point of care ultrasound (POCUS) at the bedside has increased dramatically within emergency medicine and in critical care. Applications of POCUS have spread to include diaphragmatic assessments in both adults and children. Diaphragm POCUS can be used to assess for diaphragm dysfunction (DD) and atrophy or to guide ventilator titration and weaning. Quantitative, semi-quantitative and qualitative measurements of diaphragm thickness, diaphragm excursion, and diaphragm thickening fraction provide objective data related to DD and atrophy. The potential for quick, noninvasive, and repeatable bedside diaphragm assessments has led to a growing amount of literature on diaphragm POCUS. To date, there are no reviews of the current state of diaphragm POCUS in pediatric critical care. The aims of this narrative review are to summarize the current literature regarding techniques, reference values, applications, and future innovations of diaphragm POCUS in critically ill children. A summary of current practice and future directions will be discussed.

Keywords: diaphragm; diaphragm atrophy; pediatric critical care; ultrasound; weaning.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Critical Care*
  • Diaphragm* / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Reference Values
  • Ultrasonography
  • Ventilators, Mechanical