Whole body ultrasonography in the Intensive Care Unit VOL1/3




Whole body ultrasonography in the Intensive Care Unit

C. Psarologakis, A. Proklou, D. Georgopoulos, N. Xirouchaki


Intensive Care Unit, Heraklion University Hospital, University of Crete, Greece



Address for correspondence:        Nektaria Xirouchaki MD PhD,                                                      

                                               Department of Intensive Care Medicine,

                                                            Heraklion University Hospital,

                                                            University of Crete,


                                                            E-mail: nxirouch@otenet.gr


KEY WORDS: Whole body ultrasound, lung ultrasound, cardiac ultrasound, abdomen echography, intensive care, brain sonography, transcranial doppler, TCD, optic nerve sheath diameter, ONSD, DVT. 


Over the last decades the use of ultrasonography has been established in the ICU. Being an inexpensive, dynamic and radiation-free examination, ultrasonography is one of the most useful tools for the diagnosis, management and follow up of the critically ill patient.

In scientific literature ultrasonography is considered to substitute the stethoscope, one of the classic “symbols” of the clinical examination. There are many references in the literature concerning this Greek word, its origin and its meaning. According to Laennec (1819), the term “stethoscope”, originates from the Greek word «στήθος» (chest) and «σκοπώ» (look into). The stethoscope which is used as a means of auscultation access to the organ target, is nowadays substituted by the transducer which is the means of visual access to the organ target.

The term whole body bedside ultrasonography does not necessarily mean that all critically ill patients should undergo full body imaging, but it mostly means that the examination should focus on the target-organ and target-system with which it interacts.

The aim of this review is to show in brief the applications of the bedside ultrasound in critically ill patients intending to the spread of its use.