Trick of the trade: I got ultrasound gel in my eye!

Sep 15, 10
Trick of the trade: I got ultrasound gel in my eye!

OcularUltrasoundProbeBedside ultrasonography is increasingly being used in the ED to examine the eye. For instance, it can be used to detect a retinal detachment, vitreous hemorrhage, and high intracranial pressure. The technique involves applying ultrasound gel on the patient’s closed eyelid. A generous amount of gel should be used to minimize the amount of direct pressure applied on the patient’s eye by the ultrasound probe.

Sometimes, however, no matter how careful you and the patient are, some gel accidentally contacts the eye itself.

Trick of the Trade

Apply a transparent tegaderm dressing over the patient’s closed eyelid. 1 This provides an addition barrier between the gel and the patient’s eye without compromising ultrasound image quality.


The trade-off with this trick, I find, is that while the patient’s skin doesn’t contact the gel, the removal of the tegaderm adhesive may peel off some eye makeup or a few eyelashes! Pick your poison.

Roth KR, Gafni-Pappas G. Unique Method of Ocular Ultrasound Using Transparent Dressings. The Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2011;40(6):658-660. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2009.10.020

Author information

Michelle Lin, MD

ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

The post Trick of the trade: I got ultrasound gel in my eye! appeared first on ALiEM.

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