An attending once told me that the practice of anesthesia is 90 percent routine and 10 percent sheer terror. Though I’d heard this adage before, I didn’t expect to fully realize it so early in my obstetrical anesthesiology rotation. An emergent post-partum case involving a massive pulmonary embolism challenged my diagnostic acumen. Thanks to a focused cardiac ultrasound (FoCUS) examination, my team likely saved a patient’s life. The experience forced me to consider the importance of perioperative ultrasound in anesthesia training.

One morning during routine post-partum rounds, I was set to see a 38-year-old G2P1 patient status-post dilation and evacuation (D&E) for a non-viable fetus. My notes indicated that she had failed terminal induction over the preceding 48 hours and required an urgent D&E after developing a fever concerning for chorioamnionitis.

Entering the patient’s room, I discovered a scene...

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