There are a number of possible situations where handheld lung ultrasound could play a valuable role, aiding in the detection of imaging features typical of patients presenting with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and also in the ongoing management of care.
POCUS is an initial imaging modality for patients presenting in the emergency department suspected of COVID-19 infection and pulmonary involvement. This reduces dependencies on CT and improves the ability to risk stratify while maintaining isolation protocols.
Handheld ultrasound systems can be utilized in primary care, urgent care, skilled nursing and home settings, decreasing the need for patients to be transported to a hospital or imaging center. This will reduce risk of additional exposure to healthcare staff and will increase the availability of hospital resources necessary to care for the most ill patients.
Monitoring of hospitalized patients, including ICU patients, can be done at the bedside, with a dedicated handheld ultrasound system that remains with the patient through their hospitalization, eliminating the risk of patient-to-patient nosocomial transmission via ultrasound systems.
Systematic integration of portable ultrasound imaging in the community and leveraging telemedicine guidance when necessary, could facilitate early detection of imaging features typical of COVID-19, informing clinicians’ decisions around isolation and quarantine of early/asymptomatic cases.