Reflected ultrasound offers the clinician another diagnostic aid in the evaluation of patients with possible pericardial effusion. With its ability to detect interfaces between liquid and solid, this ultrasound technic makes it possible to demonstrate pericardial fluid both anterior and posterior to the heart. As with almost all diagnostic procedures, there are some limitations and potential difficulties. Sound waves travel poorly through air; therefore, the hyperinflated lung tissue associated with pulmonary emphysema seriously interferes with recording ultrasound echoes from the heart. In addition, although few in number, both false positive and false negative results have been obtained. Despite these problems, the clinical experience with this technic thus far has been very good. With a little experience the accuracy and reliability of this procedure is as good as, if not better than, any of the currently used radiographic methods of diagnosing pericardial effusion. Furthermore, the simplicity and safety of the commercially available ultrasound equipment reduce the examination to a simple bedside procedure that can be done in a matter of minutes. Thus, diagnostic ultrasound provides a quick, safe and fairly reliable method of detecting or excluding pericardial effusion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine