Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock
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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 167-168
Ultrasound visualization of a pleural adhesion

Department of Emergency Medicine, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio, USA

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Date of Submission01-Dec-2014
Date of Acceptance08-Dec-2014
Date of Web Publication13-Jul-2015


A group of multidisciplinary sonologists conduct weekly Intensive Care Unit (ICU) rounds consisting of ultrasound examinations on select patients recommended by the critical care staff. This image was acquired on a 51-year-old male in the ICU with known valve vegetations, and a pleural adhesion was incidentally discovered on ultrasound.

Keywords: Pleural effusion, thoracostomy, ultrasound

How to cite this article:
Halaweh T, Adkins E, King A. Ultrasound visualization of a pleural adhesion. J Emerg Trauma Shock 2015;8:167-8

How to cite this URL:
Halaweh T, Adkins E, King A. Ultrasound visualization of a pleural adhesion. J Emerg Trauma Shock [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Nov 25];8:167-8. Available from:

   Introduction Top

The utility of ultrasonography is becoming more and more recognized in the field of emergency medicine. With an increasing patient population becoming more chronically ill, the emergent diagnosis of critical conditions is essential to the emergency physician's skill set. In order to train emergency medicine residents to become more facile with ultrasound, programs are trying to expose residents to ultrasound in every possible venue.

   Case Report Top

This patient was originally selected for imaging of endocarditis with known vegetations present on his bioprosthetic aortic valve. The patient was a 51-year-old gentleman with complex medical history, including intravenous poly-substance abuse, endocarditis requiring two bioprosthetic aortic valves in addition to multiple other comorbidities. He initially presented for bacteremia, NSTEMI, and altered mental status. Computed tomography (CT) imaging showed septic emboli involving the brain and spleen. Formal transesophageal echocardiogram showed endocarditis of a bioprosthetic valve.

The patient's bedside cardiac ultrasound exam did not visualize vegetations. Upon interrogating the thorax with the curvilinear probe, the patient was found to have a large right pleural effusion accompanied by a large, thick band of tissue traversing the effusion from the diaphragm to the visceral pleura [Figure 1]. Review of the prior CT images showed this finding to be a pleural adhesion, a rare finding via ultrasound technology.
Figure 1: Ultrasound still image of right sided pleural adhesion

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Numerous etiologies can result in a pleural adhesion; however, they can be organized into three categories - trauma, infectious, and iatrogenic. [1],[2] After a complete retrospective review of the patient's chart, thoracotomy was determined to be the most likely cause of a large pleural adhesion visualized on routine ultrasound.

Literature review makes it evident that thoracic surgeons visualize pleural adhesions preoperatively, but it has not been described in the other literature to this point. [3],[4] Pleural slide test using transthoracic ultrasound had a sensitivity of 88.0%, a specificity of 82.6%, and an overall accuracy of 83.8% by one radiologist in one prospective blinded study. [5]

   References Top

Roberts N, Ireland S. Tension pneumothorax with adhesions in interstitial lung disease. Emerg Med J 2014;31:232.  Back to cited text no. 1
Satoh H, Kurishima K, Kagohashi K. Pneumothorax with postoperative complicated pleural adhesion. Tuberk Toraks 2013; 61:357-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Cassanelli N, Caroli G, Dolci G, Dell'Amore A, Luciano G, Bini A, et al. Accuracy of transthoracic ultrasound for the detection of pleural adhesions. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg 2012;42:813-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sasaki M, Kawabe M, Hirai S, Yamada N, Morioka K, Ihaya A, et al. Preoperative detection of pleural adhesions by chest ultrasonography. Ann Thorac Surg 2005;80:439-42.  Back to cited text no. 4
Wei B, Wang T, Jiang F, Wang H. Use of transthoracic ultrasound to predict pleural adhesions: A prospective blinded study. Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2012;60:101-4.  Back to cited text no. 5

Correspondence Address:
Tamara Halaweh
Department of Emergency Medicine, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-2700.160731

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