Thursday, April 5, 2018

Applications, Barriers, and Future of Point of Care Ultrasound in Limited Resource Communities

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This post was peer reviewed.
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Author: Janette Magallanes, MS4
Medical Student
Indiana University School of Medicine

The most common use of point-of-care ultrasound (PoCUS) in the emergency department (ED) is in evaluating trauma patients by assessing for pericardial effusion, pneumothorax, and intra-abdominal hemorrhage. The advantage in such acute settings primarily lies in ultrasound’s ability to minimize delays and quickly narrow down a differential diagnosis. Although there is minimal data on the impact of ultrasound (US) findings on patient outcomes in underserved rural communities, there is data showing that portable ultrasound findings have led to changes in patient management in up to 70% of cases.[1]

Applications of PoCUS
Other relevant applications have been found for PoCUS throughout the world. It has been found to have utility in diagnosing empyema, intussusception, retinal detachment, and fractures, as well as in verifying endotracheal tube placements in neonates and in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.[1] More relevant to developing countries, protocols have been developed to include PoCUS in risk stratifying patients with malaria, predicting progression of dengue fever, and even assessing lymphatic filariasis.[1] There is no question that there is enormous potential in the utility of PoCUS all over the world.