High frequency ultrasound sacral images in the critically ill: Tissue characteristics versus visual evaluation

Mary Jo Grap, Christine M. Schubert, Ruth S. Burk, Valentina Lucas, Paul A. Wetzel, Anathea Pepperl, Cindy L. Munro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose High frequency ultrasound (HFUS) systems may identify tissue injury. We compared HFUS tissue characteristics (dermal thickness and dermal density) with visual image examination. Methods Longitudinal study in critically ill mechanically ventilated adults, from three ICUs (Surgical Trauma, Medical Respiratory, Neuroscience) enrolled within 24 hours of airway intubation. Sacral HFUS images were obtained daily for up to seven days. Expert evaluation of the best image per day was completed and compared to HFUS generated tissue characteristics (dermal thickness and dermal density). Results Of the113 subjects with 1614 comparisons analysed, 73.2% to 84% were normal, and 6.3% to 11.8% of the comparisons had injury present but no change was noted in the injury observed. There were no significant differences in one-day comparisons among type of injury and mean dermal thickness (p = 0.6645) or dermal median intensity (adjusted p = 0.06-0.17). All other day-to-day comparisons were similarly non-significant. Conclusions We found no association among dermal density, dermal thickness and visual examination of changes in sacral HFUS images for any day-to-day comparison. The use of sacral HFUS as a screening tool for the development of tissue injury is in its infancy. Additional comparative studies should be conducted to identify its future clinical usefulness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-67
Number of pages6
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
StatePublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Critical care
  • Evaluation
  • High frequency ultrasound
  • Pressure ulcers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care


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