Soft Tissue U/S

Diagnostic soft tissue ultrasound is very useful in the emergency department. Here, we commonly use 2 applications:
  • soft tissue infection - cellulitis / abscesses
  • foreign body localization
Preparation and scan technique
  • All soft tissue ultrasound is performed with the high frequency linear transducer. Use the small parts setting or the nerve setting.
  • Patient is in position of comfort. Expose the area required for scanning.
  • Use a water bath if the area of interest is very superficial. E.g. fill a latex glove with water, place it over the area of interest, and scan the area with the probe over the water-filled glove.
  • Remember to scan through the area, looking proximal, distal, medial and lateral. Adjust depth settings to see the area of interest in detail.
  • Gentle pressure with the ultrasound probe can demonstrate fluctuancy if needed. Be mindful if it is an abscess and is painful.
  • Color doppler is helpful to assess vascular structures, and may help to distinguish lymph nodes (which sometimes have a hypoechoic appearance i.e. cystic)

Watch a comprehensive video tutorial on MSK ultrasound here:

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