Prehospital Portable Ultrasound

From the Journal of Emergency Medicine:

Portable Ultrasound for Remote Environments, Part II: Current Indications

Background: With recent advances in ultrasound technology, it is now possible to deploy lightweight portable imaging devices in the field. Techniques and studies initially developed for hospital use have been extrapolated out of the hospital setting in a wide variety of environments in an effort to increase diagnostic accuracy in austere or prehospital environments. Objectives: This review summarizes current ultrasound applications used in out-of-hospital arenas and highlights existing evidence for such use. The diversity of applications and environments is organized by indication to better inform equipment selection as well as future directions for research and development. Discussion: Trauma evaluation, casualty triage, and assessment for pneumothorax, acute mountain sickness, and other applications have been studied by field medical teams. A wide range of outcomes have been reported, from alterations in patient care to determinations of accuracy compared to clinical judgment or other diagnostic modalities. Conclusions: The use of lightweight portable ultrasound shows great promise in augmenting clinical assessment for field medical operations. Although some studies of diagnostic accuracy exist in this setting, further research focused on clinically relevant outcomes data is needed.

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