Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Ultrasound Use in the Diagnosis of Pericardial Effusion Due to Aortic Dissection

Published:August 19, 2022DOI:


      Ultrasound has historically been limited to in-hospital use for the diagnosis and management of various conditions. However, with the advent of smaller and more portable devices, this technology can be used outside the hospital. This report describes a patient with chest pain and hypotension for whom a point-of-care cardiac ultrasound (POCUS) was performed to diagnose cardiac tamponade during critical care transport. She was subsequently found to have an acute type A aortic dissection, and her care was expedited to the operating room. Cardiac tamponade in the setting of acute type A aortic dissection requires urgent surgical repair; therefore, early diagnosis is crucial to survival. In this case, prehospital ultrasound facilitated rapid care for the patient. Further study is needed to define its role in the prehospital setting.
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