Point-of-care lung ultrasound represents an emerging and useful technique in the management of pulmonary diseases. For many years, thoracic ultrasonography was limited to the study of pleural effusion and thoracic superficial masses because alveolar air and bones of the thoracic cage limit the propagation of the ultrasound beam. Only recently has been highlighted that, by the fact, lung ultrasound works like a real densitometer that is highly sensitive to variations of the pulmonary content and balance between air and fluids. Dynamic and static analysis of a combination of sonographic artifacts and real images makes it possible an accurate diagnosis of many lung disorders, particularly when lung ultrasound is applied in the emergency and critical care setting. Sonography is useful in the diagnostic process of lung diseases where the alveolar air is reduced and interstitial fluids are increased, but also when air or fluids are collected in the pleural space. This article analyzes the basic principles of point-of-care lung ultrasound and all the supposed limitations to the diagnostic usefulness of this technique. Moreover, the article reviews the three main fields of application for lung ultrasound: interstitial, alveolar and pleural syndromes.
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