POCUS Skill: Bedside Percutaneous Cholecystostomy. #FOAMed, #FOAMcc

So one thing we all pretty much agree on is the importance of source control. Biliary sepsis is one of the more common causes of intra-abdominal sepsis, and among those, there is a not insignificant proportion of cases where a percutaneous drainage procedure is indicated, often related to an elevated surgical risk.

This is the case of a 90 year old man with severe aortic stenosis and a perforated cholecystitis with sepsis (AKI, delirium, coagulopathy) admitted to our ICU. Due to the aortic stenosis, surgical mortality was felt to be quite elevated, hence a percutaneous procedure was done.

I am sharing this to make the case that a percutaneous cholecystostomy is not outside the reasonable skill set of a clinician who is both POCUS competent and has solid guided procedural experience (central lines, thoracic or abdominal pigtails, etc) and in my opinion falls into that same category as pericardiocentesis. All the more so for clinicians working in community hospitals without the luxury of a 24/7 IR team, because in many cases, it is simply not reasonable to wait many hours for source control – the fact that the patient may make it alive to the next morning to have a drainage procedure is not relevant, as the ongoing sepsis over several hours may be something he or she does not always recover from in the ensuing days and is not a risk worth taking unless there is no other viable option. In our center the critical care physicians perform this intervention when IR is not available.

Here, an in-plane approach was chosen with a trans-hepatic route in order to avoid potential peritoneal spillage.

POCUS Pearls: 

(1) Always visualize the guidewire inside the intended space.

(2)When dilating, make sure the proximal part of the guidewire within the target area “disappears” ultrasonographically, confirming entry of the dilator. Why? In some cases the wall may give more resistance (particularly an inflammed pericardium) and the dilator may remain outside – cannulation with the catheter will be impossible.








And the nasty stuff:




Some relevant articles:




Love to hear of others’ experience,



PS if anyone wants a perc chole workshop at H&R2020 , let me know!



Bedside Ultrasound Clip Quiz! A 72 year old man with fever, weight loss and tachycardia. #FOAMed, #FOAMcc, #FOAMer

So a 72 year old man is brought to the ER after collapsing at home. His family had noted weight loss in the last months, and recently some fever and general weakness.  His HR is 108, T 38.8, BP 80/40, GCS 14 – somnolent – he is in lactic acidosis (4.5) and renal failure (cr 180 – baseline 120), with some vague abdominal pain, a clear chest and warm extremities.

POCUS shows a normal IVC, normal RV/LV, A profile lungs, no ascites, and this on the left flank:


What is the main diagnosis?

Scroll below for the answer:










So the clip shows fairly severe hydronephrosis, the “bear paw” with very dilated calyces.  The patient was suffering from obstructed pyelonephritis due to massive retroperitoneal adenopathy later found to be lymphoma.  A couple of hours later he got a nephrostomy tube to take care of the septic source (double J could not pass) and his sepsis resolved within a few days, and he headed off to chemo for the NHL.

The advantage of POCUS here is. once again, the speed of diagnosis. He went straight from CT to the readied urologists and source control happened within a couple of hours. His relatively benign abdomen may not have prompted a rapid CT otherwise.

See here for more POCUS!





Bedside Ultrasound Case: Control the source. #POCUS #FOAMed, #FOAMcc, #FOAMus

So this morning a 65yr old man with shock and respiratory failure was admitted to the ICU, hypotensive on levophed and vasopressin, with a lactate over 10.

So, as usual, my first reflex was to reach for the probe to assess hemodynamics. He had been well resuscitated by a colleague, and the IVC was essentially normal, somewhere around 15 mm and still with some respiratory variation. However, scanning thru the liver, my colleague had noted a large hepatic lesion, which on CT scan (non-infused since patient had acute renal failure) the two radiologists argued whether it was solid, vascular or fluid filled.


Having the advantage of dynamic ultrasound, you can tell that there is some fluid motion within the structure, very suggestive of an abcess, especially in the context of severe septic shock:

So the next step was source control:


Pretty nasty. Pardon my french!

We got over 1.5 L of exceedingly foul pus.


Within a couple of hours the lactate dropped to 3 and the levophed was down by more than half.

I think this case illustrates once again, the power of POCUS in the hands of clinicians.  While I am certain that the diagnosis would have been made without POCUS, it probably would have taken additional time as the radiologists themselves were debating its nature, and without POCUS, bedside drainage in the ICU would have been out of the question. That liter might still be in there tonight…

For those interested in how to integrate POCUS in their daily rounds, I think I put together a fair bit of clinical know-how and tips in this little handbook.