There is no reason not to learn thoracic ultrasound for excluding pneumothorax. It is easy to learn, easy to do and lightning fast. Integrate it in to your FAST or medical emergency protocol and it’s done in ten seconds. A recent metaanalysis tells us that it is accurate too. 

Patient data from twenty or so studies were pooled and analysed in order to compare ultra sound and good old chest x-rays.

For radiologists sensitivity and specificity for identifying pneumothorax were shown to be 0.88 and 0.99 respectively for ultrasound. Compare that to x-rays where it was 0,52 and 1,00 respectively. Not so surprising maybe. We know how chest x-rays have limited value in finding smaller or developing pneumothoraces.

Those numbers were for radiologists. When done by other clinicians sensitivity dropped to 0,89 while specificity remained at 0,99. Still pretty damn good if you ask me.

The study is here. See for yourself.

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