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PV Card: Skin and Soft Tissue Ultrasound


Abscess UltrasoundWe know that ultrasonography can be used to identify soft tissue infections. But what exactly are the distinguishing features between cellulitis and abscess? Is that a foreign body? Should I put a scalpel to this soft tissue infection? This PV card, written by Drs. Alissa Genthon, Patricia Henwood, and Mike Stone, serves as a great reference card for you at the bedside.

PV Card: Skin and Soft Tissue Ultrasound

Go to the ALiEM Cards site for more resources.

Scott Kobner
ALiEM New Submissions Editor
Medical Student
New York University School of Medicine
2014-15 ALiEM-EMRA Social Media and Digital Scholarship Fellow
  • John, MD

    Love the PV Cards – U/S for abscess is fantastic and sometimes it is just cellulitis, saving the patient from needles dissection with a scalpel. One caveat that isn’t mentioned in this PV is that it’s good habit to put some color on the area just to ensure 1) that there isn’t a big vessel nearby or 2) that the abscess isn’t actually a highly vascularized tumor – it seems to be frowned upon to do an incisional biopsy in the ED 🙂

  • Mike Stone

    Thanks for the feedback and suggestion, John! I agree that it’s a good idea to put Color on any part of the body you plan to approach with a needle or scalpel. While this is a nice habit to cultivate, it’s one of several things that we didn’t include in the Card as we’re trying to keep them short and sweet. Michelle – if there’s room and you’re interested we could always expand. Thanks again!

  • Thanks for the suggestion, John. Mike has kindly revised the 3rd page of the card to add a sentence or two about color doppler to help differentiate structures. Great teaching point! Power of post-publication review wins again.