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Recent Advances in Chest Medicine |

BLUE-Protocol and FALLS-ProtocolBLUE-Protocol and FALLS-Protocol (Lung Ultrasound): Two Applications of Lung Ultrasound in the Critically Ill

Daniel A. Lichtenstein, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

From the Service de Réanimation Médicale, Hôpital Ambroise-Paré, Boulogne-Billancourt, France.

CORRESPONDENCE TO: Daniel A. Lichtenstein, MD, FCCP, Service de Réanimation Médicale, Hôpital Ambroise-Paré, 9 Ave Charles-de-Gaulle, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt, France; e-mail: D.Licht@free.fr


Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2015;147(6):1659-1670. doi:10.1378/chest.14-1313
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This review article describes two protocols adapted from lung ultrasound: the bedside lung ultrasound in emergency (BLUE)-protocol for the immediate diagnosis of acute respiratory failure and the fluid administration limited by lung sonography (FALLS)-protocol for the management of acute circulatory failure. These applications require the mastery of 10 signs indicating normal lung surface (bat sign, lung sliding, A-lines), pleural effusions (quad and sinusoid sign), lung consolidations (fractal and tissue-like sign), interstitial syndrome (lung rockets), and pneumothorax (stratosphere sign and the lung point). These signs have been assessed in adults, with diagnostic accuracies ranging from 90% to 100%, allowing consideration of ultrasound as a reasonable bedside gold standard. In the BLUE-protocol, profiles have been designed for the main diseases (pneumonia, congestive heart failure, COPD, asthma, pulmonary embolism, pneumothorax), with an accuracy > 90%. In the FALLS-protocol, the change from A-lines to lung rockets appears at a threshold of 18 mm Hg of pulmonary artery occlusion pressure, providing a direct biomarker of clinical volemia. The FALLS-protocol sequentially rules out obstructive, then cardiogenic, then hypovolemic shock for expediting the diagnosis of distributive (usually septic) shock. These applications can be done using simple grayscale machines and one microconvex probe suitable for the whole body. Lung ultrasound is a multifaceted tool also useful for decreasing radiation doses (of interest in neonates where the lung signatures are similar to those in adults), from ARDS to trauma management, and from ICUs to points of care. If done in suitable centers, training is the least of the limitations for making use of this kind of visual medicine.

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