PoCUS vs regular ultrasound

Khalid Azzam

What is point-of-care ultrasound? How is it different from regular radiological ultrasound?

Khalid Azzam: Point-of-care ultrasound is the usual ultrasound we use. It is probably a smaller machine, more portable, at the bedside, but I look at what I call the 5 components of what makes a point-of-care ultrasound a point-of-care ultrasound.

The first important thing is that it is done at the bedside, so your patient does not go to the diagnostic or the cardiology department to have their ultrasound. It happens at the bedside.

It is done by the physician, the clinician, the nurse, whoever is caring for the patient – it is not the technologist or the radiologist or the cardiologist who does it. It is the one who [can say], “this is my patient, I am doing it”.

You see the results on a screen in front of you, interpret them immediately, and try to answer one specific question. This is not you sending your patient [away]: “I have a patient with adnominal pain, I am going to send them to have an ultrasound, it will look at everything, I may find out what the problem is.” This would look specifically at something: “Maybe there is a big spleen. Is there a big spleen? Let me measure what the spleen span is. Or maybe there is fluid in the belly. Let me look at the fluid specifically.”

So, one specific question, and then the results of what you do immediately [help you] make a decision. “Ok, I have done the physical exam, I have done my history, I have these results, and I have done my point-of-care ultrasound. And yes, I am going to make this decision in the patient’s clinical problem right now.” That is what makes a difference between our usual ultrasound versus the point-of-care ultrasound.

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