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Heart Lung Vessel. 2013;5(3):142-7.

FALLS-protocol: lung ultrasound in hemodynamic assessment of shock.

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Service de Réanimation Médicale, Hôpital Ambroise-Paré, Université Paris-Ouest, France.


The assessment of acute circulatory failure is a challenge in absence of solid gold standard. It is suggested that artifacts generated by lung ultrasound can be of help. The FALLS-protocol (Fluid Administration Limited by Lung Sonography) follows Weil's classification of shocks. Firstly, it searches for pericardial fluid, then right heart enlargment, lastly abolished lung sliding. In this setting, the diagnoses of pericardial tamponade, pulmonary embolism and tension pneumothorax, i.e. obstructive shock, can be schematically ruled out. Moreover, the search of diffuse lung rockets (i.e. multiple B-lines, a comet-tail artifact) is performed. Its absence excludes pulmonary edema, that in clinical practice is left cardiogenic shock (most cases). At this step, the patient (defined FALLS-responder) receives fluid therapy. He/she has usually a normal sonographic lung surface, an A-profile. Any clinical improvement suggests hypovolemic shock. The absence of improvement generates continuation of fluid therapy, eventually yielding fluid overload. This condition results in the change from A-profile to B-profile. Lung ultrasound has the advantage to demonstrate this interstitial syndrome at an early and infraclinical stage (FALLS-endpoint). The change from horizontal A-lines to vertical B-lines can be considered as a direct marker of volemia in this use. By elimination, this change indicates schematically distributive shock, while in current practice septic shock. The major limitation is the B-profile on admission generated by an initial lung disorder. FALLS-protocol, which can be associated with no drawback with traditional hemodynamic tools, uses a simple machine (without Doppler) and a suitable microconvex probe allowing for heart, lung and vein assessment.


acute circulatory failure; fluid responsiveness; hemodynamic assessment; lung ultrasound


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