UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Ultrasound

Title: Ultrasound Artifacts: The April Fool's of Ultrasound

Keywords: POCUS; Ultrasound Artifacts (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/1/2024 by Alexis Salerno, MD (Updated: 4/22/2024)
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Ultrasound artifacts can sometimes be helpful, but sometimes they can be misleading. 

For example:

1)Does this patient have a gallstone?

No, this is edge artifact! This is due to the ultrasound signals refracting off the side of the gallbladder wall.

  1. Does this patient have sludge?

No, this is side lobe artifact! This is due to a bright reflector outside of the central beam of the ultrasound signal that the machine mistakenly places with in the center of the beam. Side lobe artifact can occur near fluid filled masses such as the gallbladder and bladder. 

  1. Is there tissue above the liver?

No, this is mirror artifact!! This is due to ultrasound signals bouncing off a highly reflective surface such as the diaphragm.  The ultrasound machine misinterprets the time delay from the reflected ultrasound signal as a structure deeper in the image.