Examination of the diaphragm using ultrasonography and elastography: a literature review

Authors: Małgorzata Pałac, Magdalena Rutka

Published online:  25 August 2020

Abstract: The diaphragm is the respiratory muscle that plays the largest role among other respiratory muscles. Due to the structure and anatomical connections, it also performs several other functions. Among many roles, diaphragm contributes to the stability of spine, supports digestive processes, prevent the development of oedema and varicose veins. The diaphragm is examined by various diagnostic tools. Due to the availability, simplicity and non-invasive examination the greatest potential has ultrasound imaging. Therefore, the purpose of the review is to introduce the reader the methods of diaphragm imaging using elastography and ultrasonography. The review of the literature includes articles discribing the exact methodology, reliability and repeatability of results. The analysis included 17 studies which measured the diaphragm thickness and 2 studies in which the diaphragm elasticity was examined. The examination was most often performed in a supine position. The ultrasound probe was usually applied in 8th, 9th or 10th intercostal spaces on the anterior axillary line or between the anterior and midaxillary line. Due to the difficult measurement of the left hemidiaphragm, in 58% works examined only right hemidiaphragm. The aspect of reliability was tested in 42% of works. Intraobserver and interobserver reliability in these publications was high. The review of the work resulted several discrepancies in methodology of research. Therefore further researchs are necessary to standardise the methodology of procedure.