Characteristics of the Emergency Department Ultrasound Examination

The ED ultrasound examination is significantly different from the formal sonography that is performed in the radiology suite. The most important distinction is that the ED examination is very focused. Five of the six examinations seek only one primary finding: a yes-or-no answer (Iab!e 2.9.5:.1). This generally allows the examination to be performed in a single position (supine) and within only a few minutes. Also, the ED examination can be more interactive. The physician can use the patient's response and clinical findings together with the ultrasound image to aid in interpretation.

The ED applications described are usually performed with relatively modest, very portable, non-Doppler units. The addition of Doppler technology, which allows for evaluation of function (flow) as well as form (anatomy), can be expected to significantly expand the utility of bedside emergency ultrasound during the next decade.

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