PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Critically ill patients are subjected to a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. It is desirable to make these interventions as timely, safe, and effective as possible. Bedside ultrasound and echocardiography are tools that allow for diagnosis of many conditions, without subjecting the patient to radiation, dye, and the risks of transport. In addition, ultrasound guidance of procedures may improve safety and efficacy. This review analyzes the literature on ultrasound and echocardiography use in the ICU. RECENT FINDINGS: There is evidence supporting the use of bedside echocardiography and ultrasound for the diagnosis of chest, abdominal, and other pathologic conditions in the ICU. There is also evidence to support ultrasound guidance of vascular access and other procedures. There are multiple reports of novel uses of bedside echocardiography and ultrasound in the ICU. SUMMARY: There is substantial literature supporting ultrasound and bedside limited echocardiography in the critical care setting. In addition, there are frequent reports of new applications for these technologies in the literature. The role of ultrasound and bedside limited echocardiography in the critical care setting is likely to expand in the future and become a part of daily care in every surgical intensive care unit.
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