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Am Fam Physician. 2022;106(4):464-465

This clinical content conforms to AAFP criteria for CME.

Author disclosure: Dr. Grogan is an educator and trainer at Global Ultrasound Institute, an online training platform for point-of-care ultrasonography.

Key Points for Practice

• Adding POCUS to a standard diagnostic workup for dyspnea does not improve clinical outcomes, although it increases the probability of a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment at four hours.

• Adding POCUS to a standard diagnostic workup for dyspnea improves diagnostic accuracy for pneumonia, congestive heart failure, pulmonary embolism, and pleural effusion.

• POCUS is less helpful when used instead of a standard diagnostic pathway or when the workup does not suggest a diagnosis. 

From the AFP Editors

Respiratory issues, including dyspnea, led more than 1 million people to the emergency department before the COVID-19 pandemic. The standard clinical workup for patients with undifferentiated dyspnea often includes electrocardiography, chest radiography, and laboratory measurements. Point-of-care ultrasonography (POCUS) can aid in diagnosing numerous etiologies for dyspnea, including decompensated heart failure, pleural effusion, pneumothorax, pulmonary embolism, and exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease using limited echocardiography, lung, inferior vena cava, and deep vein assessments.

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Coverage of guidelines from other organizations does not imply endorsement by AFP or the AAFP.

This series is coordinated by Michael J. Arnold, MD, associate medical editor.

A collection of Practice Guidelines published in AFP is available at

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