TUS has gained widespread use for procedural guidance after it was shown that its use significantly reduced complications and improved patient safety. Clinicians now use TUS for a variety of other purposes including the diagnosis of malignant effusions, and identification of lung consolidation, intercostal arteries and pneumothorax, along with point-of-care assessment of acutely breathless patients. TUS can be superior to CT for real-time procedure guidance, as well as being more portable and relatively inexpensive. As the use of TUS increases and diversifies, it is imperative that standards are maintained. The question of how to regulate training has become more pertinent as a wider range of specialties are using TUS for a variety of different indications. It is possible, in the future, that TUS will be used to predict NEL, improve the management of patients undergoing pleurodesis or allow physicians to perform lung biopsies, and, with further advances, TUS may become as vital as the stethoscope.

Cite as: Banka RA, Skaarup SH, Mercer RM, et al. Thoracic ultrasound: a key tool beyond procedure guidance. In: Maskell NA, Laursen CB, Lee YCG, et al., eds. Pleural Disease (ERS Monograph). Sheffield, European Respiratory Society, 2020; pp. 73–89 [https://doi.org/10.1183/2312508X.10023219].