Transthoracic sonographic assessment of B-line scores during ascent to altitude among healthy trekkers

Rachel Lim, Irene W.Y. Ma, Tom D Brutsaert, Heidi E. Nysten, Cassandra N. Nysten, Mingma T. Sherpa, Trevor A. Day

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Sonographic B-lines can indicate pulmonary interstitial edema. We sought to determine the incidence of subclinical pulmonary edema measured by sonographic B-lines among lowland trekkers ascending to high altitude in the Nepal Himalaya. Twenty healthy trekkers underwent portable sonographic examinations and arterial blood draws during ascent to 5160 m over ten days. B-lines were identified in twelve participants and more frequent at 4240 m and 5160 m compared to lower altitudes (P < 0.03). There was a strong negative correlation between arterial oxygen saturation and the number of B-lines at 5160 m (ρ = −0.75, P = 0.008). Our study contributes to the growing body of literature demonstrating the development of asymptomatic pulmonary edema during ascent to high altitude. Portable lung sonography may have utility in fieldwork contexts such as trekking at altitude, but further research is needed in order to clarify its potential clinical applicability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-19
Number of pages6
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
StatePublished - May 2019


  • B-lines
  • Extravascular lung water
  • High-altitude pulmonary edema
  • Sonography
  • Ultrasound lung comets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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