Dyspnea: when the preliminary imaging is unconvincing

  • Angelica Moretti | angelicamoretti@libero.it Emergency Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
  • Francesca Croci Emergency Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
  • Franco Carmassi Emergency Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.


A 73-year-old man was admitted to the Emergency Room (ER) for dyspnea and cough from several months. In ER were performed blood sampling, chest X-ray, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram and arterial blood gas. A thoracic ultrasound (US) revealed in the left side an abundant pleural effusion and a lung consolidation area of about 5 cm without air bronchogram. A thoracentesis showed the presence of hemorrhagic effusion. Chest computed tomography (CT) revealed micro-pulmonary embolism, abundant left pleural effusion with atelectasis of the lower ipsilateral lobe. Meanwhile the chest CT revised by the pulmonologist appeared suspicious for the presence of cancer, the cytological examination of pleural fluid revealed the presence of an adenocarcinoma. While the patient was waiting for the bronchoscopy he had a stroke and died in a few days. In conclusion, we believe that thoracic US has to be considered an extension of the physical examination, it is a bedside tool and it represents a valid diagnostic and therapeutic method. Therefore thoracic US, if closely linked to the physician’s activity, can directly affect the decision-making process and management of the patient with dyspnea.



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Case Reports
Dyspnea, thoracic ultrasound.
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How to Cite
Moretti, A., Croci, F., & Carmassi, F. (2015). Dyspnea: when the preliminary imaging is unconvincing. Italian Journal of Medicine, 9(2), 163-168. https://doi.org/10.4081/itjm.2015.451