Network Five: POCUS

Network Five: Episode 3 – POCUS

Participants: Oliver Archer (ED resident and previous cardiac sonographer), Hung Diep (ED advanced trainee), Dr Richard McNulty, Dr Kenny Yee, Dr Pramod Chandru, Kit Rowe, Shreyas Iyer, Caroline Tyers and Samoda Wilegoda Mudalige.

Part 1

In this episode, the focus is on POCUS – we will be discussing the role, benefits, and potential pitfalls of POCUS in cardiac arrest. Presenter: Oliver Archer

Take-Home Points:

  • This study showed that visualizing cardiac activity on ultrasound resulted in increased duration and effort of resuscitation, and was associated with improved clinical outcomes. 
  • It is difficult to know whether the improved clinical outcomes were secondary to increased resuscitation efforts or due to identification (with ultrasound) of those with a better prognosis. 
  • Ultimately, ultrasound should be used as an adjunct to your clinical decision-making, but should not get in the way of the established standard ALS protocol. 
  • The COACHRED protocol (referenced below) assists in incorporating POCUS into the arrest algorithm.

Part 2

In this second part of the series, we look at diagnosing pulmonary embolism POCUS. Presenter: Hung Diep.

Take-Home Points:

  • This study shows that focused cardiac ultrasound (FOCUS): involving right ventricular dilation, McConnell’s sign, septal flattening, tricuspid regurgitation, and tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion (TAPSE), maybe a useful adjunct in the workup of patients with a high pre-test probability of PE.
  • The most sensitive component of the FOCUS was TAPSE. 
  • The most specific components of the FOCUS were McConnell’s sign and septal flattening. 
  • However, it is important to remember that illnesses associated with chronic right heart strain such as COPD would also yield a positive FOCUS.
  • At this stage, there is not enough evidence for FOCUS in diagnosing PE to alter clinical decision-making.  

Part 3

In this final part of the series, we probe into its use in the management of long bone fractures. Presenter: Pramod Chandru

Take-Home Points:

  • This study looked at the use of POCUS to assist with both the diagnosis and reduction of long bone fractures (radius, ulna, humerus, tibia, fibula, and femur). 
  • POCUS use had reasonable sensitivity and specificity in the diagnosis of fractures, particularly paediatric forearm fractures and adult ankle fractures – however, it may not provide all the information required regarding a fracture once identified. 
  • In the absence of fluoroscopy, using POCUS to delineate the satisfactory nature of a reduction in ED (such as of the wrist) may reduce the risks associated with recurrent reductions and the need for operative fixation, however, further research with randomized controlled trials is needed.
  • All in all, it is hard to see how ultrasound would replace x-ray as the imaging modality of choice for fractures, but there is an argument to be made for the use of ultrasound in assessing for the adequacy of reduction particularly in specific populations and this would be an interesting area for future studies.  

Other references



These episodes were produced with help of HETI’s Emergency Medicine Training Network 5. Please send us an email to let us know what you thought. You can contact us at [email protected]

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FACEM in Westmead and Nepean Hospitals in Sydney, Australia. Lead on Network Five Emergency Medicine Journal Club. I have a special interest in medical education, research and simulation.

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