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J Fam Pract. 2018 Feb;67(2):70-80.

Point-of-care ultrasound: Coming soon to primary care?

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Palmetto Health Family Medicine Residency, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, South Carolina, USA. E-mail:
Contra Costa Family Medicine Residency, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, USA.


Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) has been gaining greater traction in recent years as a way to quickly (and cost-effectively) assess for conditions including systolic dysfunction, pleural effusion, abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). It involves limited and specific ultrasound protocols performed at the bedside by the health care provider who is trying to answer a specific question and, thus, help guide treatment of the patient. In this article, we will review the evidence for the use of POCUS in 4 areas: the cardiovascular exam, the lung exam, the screening exam for AAAs, and the evaluation for DVT. For all of these applications, POCUS is safe, accurate, and beneficial and can be performed with a relatively small amount of training by non-radiology specialists, including family physicians.


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