Thoracic spine sign of pleural effusion on ultrasound

Case contributed by Dr Balint Botz


Known metastatic lung cancer. Dyspnea, left plerural effusion on chest x-ray.

Patient Data

Age: 75 years
Gender: Female

On B-mode ultrasound performed in a supine position the reflexion caused by the spine can be followed above the diaphragm due to a large pleural effusion. Atelectasis in the basal lung segments is also visible. Incidentally a small amount of free fluid can be observed around the spleen as well. 

Case Discussion

The thoracic spine sign is an easily recognizable indicator of large pleural effusion, particularly helpful for POCUS users. 

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Case information

rID: 57091
Published: 6th Dec 2017
Last edited: 14th Aug 2019
System: Chest
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included
Institution: University of Pécs

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