Short communication

Critical Ultrasound Journal

, 4:19

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The V-line: a sonographic aid for the confirmation of pleural fluid

  • Paul AtkinsonAffiliated withDalhousie Medicine New BrunswickDepartment of Emergency Medicine, Dalhousie University, Saint John Regional Hospital Email author 
  • , James MilneAffiliated withDalhousie Medicine New Brunswick
  • , Osama LoubaniAffiliated withDepartment of Emergency Medicine, Dalhousie University
  • , Glenn VerheulAffiliated withDepartment of Emergency Medicine, Dalhousie University, Saint John Regional Hospital



Ultrasound is being used increasingly to diagnose pathological free fluid accumulation at the bedside. In addition to the detection of peritoneal and pericardial fluid, point-of-care ultrasound allows rapid bedside diagnosis of pleural fluid.


In this short report, we describe the sonographic observation of the vertebral or ‘V-line’ to help confirm the presence of pleural fluid in the supine patient. The V-line sign is a result of the fluid acting as an acoustic window to enable visualization of vertebral bodies and posterior thoracic wall, thus confirming the presence of pleural fluid.


The V-line is a useful sonographic sign to aid the diagnosis of pleural free fluid.