Introduction to Bedside Ultrasound

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  • Ultrasound is frequently used by non-radiologists in medical wards, intensive care units, operating rooms, emergency departments, and clinic offices. Traditional history and physical examination can be augmented with focused bedside ultrasonography.
  • Bedside ultrasound is useful for both diagnostic and procedural applications.


  • Ultrasound-guided vascular access, both central and peripheral access
  • Ultrasound-guided paracentesis
  • Ultrasound-guided thoracentesis
  • Ultrasound-guided lumbar puncture
  • Ultrasound-guided regional nerve blocks
  • Soft tissue assessment for abscess or foreign body
  • Transvenous Pacemaker placement


  • The FAST Exam
  • Ultrasound assessment of the Aorta
  • Gallbladder and biliary assessment
  • Lung ultrasound, such as for detection of pneumothorax, hemothorax, or CHF
  • Volume status assessment by IVC assessment
  • DVT evaluation
  • Basic Echocardiography, such as for pericardial effusion detection
  • Critical assessment of the code patient
  • Evaluation of the eye for Optic emergencies, such as retinal detachment
  • Renal ultrasound, such as for assessment of hydronephrosis

Ultrasound Machine Basics

Components of the modern ultrasound machine include the monitor, keypad and function buttons, and various ultrasound probes.

Ultrasound Probes

  • The ultrasound probe transmits ultrasonic waves into the patient and receives them back for analysis and image production.
  • The linear probe has a flat top, which allows for more of an anatomically accurate image. This probe is used for most procedural applications.
  • The curvilinear probe has a curved top, and transmits and receives waves in a splayed fashion. This probe is used for most diagnostic applications.
  • The phased array probe has a flat and square top, and is most often used for echocardiography.
  • The endocavitary probe is most often used for transvaginal ultrasound.
  • Ultrasound probes should be properly oriented with the monitor during image acquistion.

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The full content of this section includes:
  • Step-by-step text instructions for performing the procedure
  • Clinical pearls providing practical clinical tips from medical experts
  • Patient safety guidelines consistent with Joint Commission and OHSA standards
  • Links to medical evidence and related procedures

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