There is increasing interest in the use of ultrasound to assess and guide the management of critically ill patients. The ability to carry out quick examinations by the bedside to answer specific clinical queries as well as repeatability are clear advantages in an acute care setting. In addition, delays associated with transfer of patients out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and exposure to ionizing radiation may also be avoided. Ultrasonographic imaging looks set to evolve and complement clinical examination of acutely ill patients, offering quick answers by the bedside. In this two-part narrative review, we describe the applications of ultrasonography with a special focus on the management of the critically ill. Part I explores the utility of echocardiography in the ICU, with emphasis on its usefulness in the management of hemodynamically unstable patients. We also discuss lung ultrasonography - a vastly underutilized technology for several years, until intensivists began to realize its usefulness, and obvious advantages over chest radiography. Ultrasonography is rapidly emerging as an important tool in the hands of intensive care physicians.
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