Lung ultrasound in a tertiary intensive care unit population: a diagnostic accuracy study

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BACKGROUND: Evidence from previous studies comparing lung ultrasound to thoracic computed tomography (CT) in intensive care unit (ICU) patients is limited due to multiple methodologic weaknesses. While addressing methodologic weaknesses of previous studies, the primary aim of this study is to investigate the diagnostic accuracy of lung ultrasound in a tertiary ICU population.

METHODS: This is a single-center, prospective diagnostic accuracy study conducted at a tertiary ICU in the Netherlands. Critically ill patients undergoing thoracic CT for any clinical indication were included. Patients were excluded if time between the index and reference test was over eight hours. Index test and reference test consisted of 6-zone lung ultrasound and thoracic CT, respectively. Hemithoraces were classified by the index and reference test as follows: consolidation, interstitial syndrome, pneumothorax and pleural effusion. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative likelihood ratio were estimated.

RESULTS: In total, 87 patients were included of which eight exceeded the time limit and were subsequently excluded. In total, there were 147 respiratory conditions in 79 patients. The estimated sensitivity and specificity to detect consolidation were 0.76 (95%CI: 0.68 to 0.82) and 0.92 (0.87 to 0.96), respectively. For interstitial syndrome they were 0.60 (95%CI: 0.48 to 0.71) and 0.69 (95%CI: 0.58 to 0.79). For pneumothorax they were 0.59 (95%CI: 0.33 to 0.82) and 0.97 (95%CI: 0.93 to 0.99). For pleural effusion they were 0.85 (95%CI: 0.77 to 0.91) and 0.77 (95%CI: 0.62 to 0.88).

CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, lung ultrasound is an adequate diagnostic modality in a tertiary ICU population to detect consolidations, interstitial syndrome, pneumothorax and pleural effusion. Moreover, one should be careful not to interpret lung ultrasound results in deterministic fashion as multiple respiratory conditions can be present in one patient. Trial registration This study was retrospectively registered at Netherlands Trial Register on March 17, 2021, with registration number NL9344.

Original languageEnglish
Article number339
Pages (from-to)339
JournalCritical care (London, England)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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