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Recent advances in ultrasonography technology have led to increased usage at the point-of-care, with handheld devices offering diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

Point-of-care ultrasonography (POCUS) has proven to be an effective tool for various medical and surgical conditions, including those experienced by patients who are critically ill. Its numerous benefits are that it can be performed quickly and cost-effectively without transporting the patient, uses no radiation, and is easily reproducible and noninvasive. POCUS can be performed at the patient’s bedside as clinical questions arise and rapidly repeated as a clinical situation mandates.

Point-of-Care Ultrasonography in the Critical Care Setting: Abdominal POCUS ,” published in AACN Advanced Critical Caredescribes several applications for POCUS in abdominal imaging, including the biliary tract, liver, kidneys, bladder, and appendix, as well as intra-abdominal free fluid. For each one, the article covers indications, relevant anatomy and physiology, clinical pitfalls, scanning techniques, and documentation of findings.

The authors are Bryan Boling, DNP, AGACNP-BC, and Abbye Solis, DNP, ACNP-BC. Boling is a nurse practitioner in the anesthesiology department, division of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Kentucky, Lexington. Solis is a nurse practitioner in the Weinberg Surgical ICU at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore. They are both adjunct faculty in the adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner program at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

“The most-known application of abdominal POCUS is to quickly assess the trauma patient for occult intra-abdominal injury, but it can also help clinicians evaluate the function of several abdominal organs that may fail during critical illness and contribute to morbidity and mortality,” Boling says. “POCUS is redefining how illness and injuries are diagnosed and treated, and its growth and expansion will only continue.”

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