Introduction to Ultrasound

What is POCUS

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So what is POCUS? Point-of-Care ultrasound is ultrasound that's done at the bedside – it's taking the machine and clinician to the patient in the context of clinical care. This figure to the right shows a circle of the more traditional ultrasound algorithm where a clinician sees a patient and then “orders” an ultrasound. That patient may be whisked off to an ultrasound suite where there’s a sonographer who obtains images, those images may be transferred to radiologist who may never see the patient or the sonographer or the emergency physician and transfers an interpretation back. What ultrasound can really do is bridge those degrees of separation and really put the patient directly in contact with the clinician. POCUS is really not meant to replace imaging consultants. Just like you don't need an orthopedist to see every sprained ankle or a cardiologist to see every chest pain, you don’t need an imaging specialist to see every ultrasound in my opinion. This does not mean we don’t have great respect for our imaging specialists and consultants – radiologists and cardiologists who do this all the time, but they are consultants and people that you call in if you can’t figure something out. POCUS typically will answer binary “yes” or “no” questions. And it's often combined – the examination of the heart and the abdomen, for example in the FAST exam – the focused assessment with sonography in trauma – where you look at areas of the chest, the heart, and the abdomen in one integrated examination.

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