What is Thoracic (Chest) Ultrasound?
The Thoracic (Chest) Ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic exam that captures images of the major organs and structures within the chest including the lungs, mediastinum (the heart, aorta, trachea, esophagus, thymus, and lymph nodes), and pleural space. Ultrasound is a very safe and reliable diagnostic imaging resource that assesses pathology and guides physicians towards your individualized treatment plan.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of items diagnostic thoracic ultrasound can provide information regarding:
- Excess fluid in the pleural space or other areas of the chest
- Differentiate between exudate and transudate fluid
- Movement of the diaphragm
- Function of the heart and its valves
Should you have any concern of chest signs or symptoms, a referral from a general practitioner or family doctor is required for a diagnostic thoracic ultrasound.
How to Prepare for My Thoracic Ultrasound?
In general, there is no fasting or sedation required before the ultrasound, but your doctor may give you specific instructions if necessary. Dress in clothes that allow for easy access to examine the chest, otherwise, a medical gown will be provided.
A water-based gel is used to improve the transmission of the ultrasound waves; however, should you have any allergies to gel it is important to let the ultrasound technician know. In addition, please let the ultrasound technician know if you have had any previous surgery around the imaged area.
If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, please notify your doctor. If you have any queries or concerns with preparing for your ultrasound, please discuss these with your physician before your appointment.
What to expect during my Thoracic Ultrasound Appointment?
Upon arrival, you will be shown to a private room where the ultrasound technician will offer you a medical gown to change into and you will lie on a padded examination table. You will be asked to remove any jewelry that may interfere with the ultrasound procedure.
When ready, the ultrasound technician will apply a small amount of a water-based gel to the transducer head, and gently move it along your thorax with mild to moderate pressure to capture clear images. Once all necessary images have been captured, you will be able to wipe off the gel and get dressed.
The assessment will be approximately 30 minutes long.
Soon after your appointment, a radiologist will review your images and send a report of your diagnosis to your general practitioner or family physician. Once the report is reviewed, your doctor will contact you with the results.