Advantages and pitfalls of using ultrasound in pleural diseases

  • Advantages

  • Pitfalls

  • Widely available

Operator dependent
  • Relatively cheap

  • Not suitable for examinations in patients with subcutaneous emphysema

  • Mobile – ideal point-of-care test

  • Difficult to examine patients with narrow intercostal spaces (e.g. fibrothorax)

  • Lack of ionising radiation (making the test safe to repeat)

Inferior to computed tomography in delineating complex pleural spaces (e.g. multi-loculated hydropneumothorax)
  • Improves safety of pleural procedures

  • Allows real-time invasive procedure guidance

More sensitive than computed tomography for pleural fluid characterisation