Thoracic ultrasonography: a narrative review

  • P. H. MayoEmail author
  • R. Copetti
  • D. Feller-Kopman
  • G. Mathis
  • E. Maury
  • S. Mongodi
  • F. Mojoli
  • G. Volpicelli
  • M. Zanobetti


This narrative review focuses on thoracic ultrasonography (lung and pleural) with the aim of outlining its utility for the critical care clinician. The article summarizes the applications of thoracic ultrasonography for the evaluation and management of pneumothorax, pleural effusion, acute dyspnea, pulmonary edema, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, interstitial processes, and the patient on mechanical ventilatory support. Mastery of lung and pleural ultrasonography allows the intensivist to rapidly diagnose and guide the management of a wide variety of disease processes that are common features of critical illness. Its ease of use, rapidity, repeatability, and reliability make thoracic ultrasonography the “go to” modality for imaging the lung and pleura in an efficient, cost effective, and safe manner, such that it can largely replace chest imaging in critical care practice. It is best used in conjunction with other components of critical care ultrasonography to yield a comprehensive evaluation of the critically ill patient at point of care.


Ultrasonography Lung ultrasonography Pleural ultrasonography Critical care ultrasonography 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors do not declare any conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (MP4 209523 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Northwell HealthZucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/NorthwellHempsteadUSA
  2. 2.Department of Emergency MedicineLatisana HospitalLatisanaItaly
  3. 3.Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep MedicineJohns Hopkins HospitalBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.3 Praxis for Internal MedicineRankweilAustria
  5. 5.7 Medical Intensive Care Unit, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de ParisUniversity Hospital Saint-AntoineParisFrance
  6. 6.8 INSERM U 1136, Institut Pierre-Louis d’Epidémiologie et de Santé PubliqueParisFrance
  7. 7.9 Sorbonne UniversityParisFrance
  8. 8.Anesthesia and Intensive Care, IRCCS Policlinico San MatteoUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  9. 9.Department of Emergency MedicineSan Luigi Gonzaga University HospitalTurinItaly
  10. 10.Emergency DepartmentCareggi University HospitalFlorenceItaly

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