An article published by EMS World looks at the use of ultrasound to diagnose respiratory distress, the cause of which can sometimes be elusive.

“Given that the proper treatments for these conditions (cardiogenic pulmonary edema vs COPD) are distinctly different, it is important to be able to properly differentiate the pathology at hand—and that requires a more accurate assessment than a stethoscope can offer,” wrote Branden Miesemer, NRP, FP-C. 

“The Bedside Lung Ultrasound in Emergency (BLUE) protocol, as described by ultrasound experts Daniel Lichtenstein, MD, and Gilbert Mezière, MD, in 2008, is a simple algorithm to determine the cause of a patient’s respiratory distress. All diagnostic outcomes in the protocol have a specificity of over 90%—extremely high for any prehospital test. The full protocol takes less than three minutes to perform and utilizes sites familiar to anyone experienced in using a stethoscope: the upper and lower chest at the anterior, anterolateral and posterior aspects.”