Academic Editor: Tasneem Z. Naqvi
Pulmonary congestion is a critical finding in patients with heart failure (HF) that can be quantified by lung ultrasound (LUS) through B-line quantification, the latter of which can be easily measured by all commercially-available probes/ultrasound equipment. As such, LUS represents a useful tool for the assessment of patients with both acute and chronic HF. Several imaging protocols have been described in the literature according to different clinical settings. While most studies have been performed with either the 8 or 28 chest zone protocol, the 28-zone protocol is more time-consuming while the 8-zone protocol offers the best trade-off with no sizeable loss of information. In the acute setting, LUS has excellent value in diagnosing acute HF, which is superior to physical examination and chest X-ray, particularly in instances of diagnostic uncertainty. In addition to its diagnostic value, accumulating evidence over the last decade (mainly derived from ambulatory settings or at discharge from an acute HF hospitalisation) suggests that LUS can also represent a useful prognostic tool for predicting adverse outcome in both HF with reduced (HFrEF) and preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). It also allows real-time monitoring of pulmonary decongestion during treatment of acute HF. Additionally, LUS-guided therapy, when compared with usual care, has been shown to reduce the risk of HF hospitalisations at short- and mid-term follow-up. In addition, studies have shown good correlation between B-lines during exercise stress echocardiography and invasive, bio-humoral and echocardiographic indices of haemodynamic congestion; B-lines during exercise are also associated with worse prognosis in both HFrEF and HFpEF. Altogether, LUS represents a reliable and useful tool in the assessment of pulmonary congestion and risk stratification of HF patients throughout their entire journey (i.e., emergency department/acute settings, in-hospital management, discharge from acute HF hospitalisation, monitoring in the outpatient setting), with considerable diagnostic and prognostic implications.