Tracheal, Lung, and Diaphragmatic Applications of M-Mode Ultrasonography in Anesthesiology and Critical Care

Gabriel Prada, Antoine Vieillard-Baron, Archer K. Martin, Antonio Hernandez, Farouk Mookadam, Harish Ramakrishna, Jose L. Diaz-Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Today, proficiency in cardiopulmonary ultrasound is considered essential for anesthesiologists and critical care physicians. Conventional 2-dimensional images, however, do not permit optimal characterization of specific conditions (eg, diaphragmatic paralysis, major atelectasis, and pneumothorax) that may have relevant clinical implications in critical care and perioperative settings. By contrast, M-mode (motion-based) ultrasonographic imaging modality offers the highest temporal resolution in ultrasonography; this modality, therefore, can provide important information in ultrasound-driven approaches performed by anesthesiologists and intensivists for diagnosis, monitoring, and procedural guidance. Despite its practicability, M-mode has been progressively abandoned in echocardiography and is often underused in lung and diaphragmatic ultrasound. This review describes contemporary applications of M-mode ultrasonography in the practice of critical care and perioperative medicine. Information presented for each clinical application includes image acquisition and interpretation, evidence-based clinical implications in critically ill and surgical patients, and main limitations. The article focuses on tracheal, lung, and diaphragmatic ultrasound. It reviews tracheal ultrasound for procedural guidance during endotracheal intubation, confirmation of correct tube placement, and detection of esophageal intubation; lung ultrasound for the confirmation of endotracheal and endobronchial (selective) intubation and for the diagnosis of pneumothorax, alveolar-interstitial syndrome (cardiogenic v noncardiogenic pulmonary edema), pulmonary consolidation (pneumonia v major atelectasis) and pleural effusion; and diaphragmatic ultrasound for the diagnosis of diaphragmatic dysfunction and prediction of extubation success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-322
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Anesthesia
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • M-mode
  • anesthesiology
  • critical care
  • diaphragmatic ultrasound
  • lung ultrasound
  • ultrasonography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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