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      Lung Ultrasound in COVID-19 Pneumonia: Correlations with Chest CT on Hospital admission

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          Lung ultrasound (LUS) is an accurate, safe, and cheap tool assisting in the diagnosis of several acute respiratory diseases. The diagnostic value of LUS in the workup of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) in the hospital setting is still uncertain.


          The aim of this observational study was to explore correlations of the LUS appearance of COVID-19-related pneumonia with CT findings.


          Twenty-six patients (14 males, age 64 ± 16 years) urgently hospitalized for COVID-19 pneumonia, who underwent chest CT and bedside LUS on the day of admission, were enrolled in this observational study. CT images were reviewed by expert chest radiologists, who calculated a visual CT score based on extension and distribution of ground-glass opacities and consolidations. LUS was performed by clinicians with certified competency in thoracic ultrasonography, blind to CT findings, following a systematic approach recommended by ultrasound guidelines. LUS score was calculated according to presence, distribution, and severity of abnormalities.


          All participants had CT findings suggestive of bilateral COVID-19 pneumonia, with an average visual scoring of 43 ± 24%. LUS identified 4 different possible ­abnormalities, with bilateral distribution (average LUS score 15 ± 5): focal areas of nonconfluent B lines, diffuse confluent B lines, small subpleural microconsolidations with pleural line irregularities, and large parenchymal consolidations with air bronchograms. LUS score was significantly correlated with CT visual scoring ( r = 0.65, p < 0.001) and oxygen saturation in room air ( r = −0.66, p < 0.001).


          When integrated with clinical data, LUS could represent a valid diagnostic aid in patients with suspect COVID-19 pneumonia, which reflects CT findings.

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          Most cited references 25

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          Lung ultrasound for the diagnosis of pneumonia in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

          Background Guidelines do not currently recommend the use of lung ultrasound (LUS) as an alternative to chest X-ray (CXR) or chest computerized tomography (CT) scan for the diagnosis of pneumonia. We conducted a meta-analysis to summarize existing evidence of the diagnostic accuracy of LUS for pneumonia in adults. Methods We conducted a systematic search of published studies comparing the diagnostic accuracy of LUS against a referent CXR or chest CT scan and/or clinical criteria for pneumonia in adults aged ≥18 years. Eligible studies were required to have a CXR and/or chest CT scan at the time of evaluation. We manually extracted descriptive and quantitative information from eligible studies, and calculated pooled sensitivity and specificity using the Mantel-Haenszel method and pooled positive and negative likelihood ratios (LR) using the DerSimonian-Laird method. We assessed for heterogeneity using the Q and I2 statistics. Results Our initial search strategy yielded 2726 articles, of which 45 (1.7%) were manually selected for review and 10 (0.4%) were eligible for analyses. These 10 studies provided a combined sample size of 1172 participants. Six studies enrolled adult patients who were either hospitalized or admitted to Emergency Departments with suspicion of pneumonia and 4 studies enrolled critically-ill adult patients. LUS was performed by highly-skilled sonographers in seven studies, by trained physicians in two, and one did not mention level of training. All studies were conducted in high-income settings. LUS took a maximum of 13 minutes to conduct. Nine studies used a 3.5-5 MHz micro-convex transducer and one used a 5–9 MHz convex probe. Pooled sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of pneumonia using LUS were 94% (95% CI, 92%-96%) and 96% (94%-97%), respectively; pooled positive and negative LRs were 16.8 (7.7-37.0) and 0.07 (0.05-0.10), respectively; and, the area-under-the-ROC curve was 0.99 (0.98-0.99). Conclusions Our meta-analysis supports that LUS, when conducted by highly-skilled sonographers, performs well for the diagnosis of pneumonia. General practitioners and Emergency Medicine physicians should be encouraged to learn LUS since it appears to be an established diagnostic tool in the hands of experienced physicians.
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            Ultrasound of extravascular lung water: a new standard for pulmonary congestion

            Extravascular lung water (EVLW) is a key variable in heart failure management and prognosis, but its objective assessment remains elusive. Lung imaging has been traditionally considered off-limits for ultrasound techniques due to the acoustic barrier of high-impedance air wall. In pulmonary congestion however, the presence of both air and water creates a peculiar echo fingerprint. Lung ultrasound shows B-lines, comet-like signals arising from a hyper-echoic pleural line with a to-and-fro movement synchronized with respiration. Increasing EVLW accumulation changes the normal, no-echo signal (black lung, no EVLW) into a black-and-white pattern (interstitial sub-pleural oedema with multiple B-lines) or a white lung pattern (alveolar pulmonary oedema) with coalescing B-lines. The number and spatial extent of B-lines on the antero-lateral chest allows a semi-quantitative estimation of EVLW (from absent, ≤5, to severe pulmonary oedema, >30 B-lines). Wet B-lines are made by water and decreased by diuretics, which cannot modify dry B-lines made by connective tissue. B-lines can be evaluated anywhere (including extreme environmental conditions with pocket size instruments to detect high-altitude pulmonary oedema), anytime (during dialysis to titrate intervention), by anyone (even a novice sonographer after 1 h training), and on anybody (since the chest acoustic window usually remains patent when echocardiography is not feasible). Cardiologists can achieve much diagnostic gain with little investment of technology, training, and time. B-lines represent ‘the shape of lung water’. They allow non-invasive detection, in real time, of even sub-clinical forms of pulmonary oedema with a low cost, radiation-free approach.
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              Early recognition of the 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) pneumonia by chest ultrasound

              Introduction The clinical picture of the pandemic influenza A (H1N1)v ranges from a self-limiting afebrile infection to a rapidly progressive pneumonia. Prompt diagnosis and well-timed treatment are recommended. Chest radiography (CRx) often fails to detect the early interstitial stage. The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of bedside chest ultrasonography (US) in the early management of the 2009 influenza A (H1N1)v infection. Methods 98 patients who arrived in the Emergency Department complaining of influenza-like symptoms were enrolled in the study. Patients not displaying symptoms of acute respiratory distress were discharged without further investigations. Among patients with clinical suggestion of a community-acquired pneumonia, cases encountering other diagnoses or comorbidities were excluded from the study. Clinical history, laboratory tests, CRx, and computed tomography (CT) scan, if indicated, contributed to define the diagnosis of pneumonia in the remaining patients. Chest US was performed by an emergency physician, looking for presence of interstitial syndrome, alveolar consolidation, pleural line abnormalities, and pleural effusion, in 34 patients with a final diagnosis of pneumonia, in 16 having normal initial CRx, and in 33 without pneumonia, as controls. Results Chest US was carried out without discomfort in all subjects, requiring a relatively short time (9 minutes; range, 7 to 13 minutes). An abnormal US pattern was detected in 32 of 34 patients with pneumonia (94.1%). A prevalent US pattern of interstitial syndrome was depicted in 15 of 16 patients with normal initial CRx, of whom 10 (62.5%) had a final diagnosis of viral (H1N1) pneumonia. Patients with pneumonia and abnormal initial CRx, of whom only four had a final diagnosis of viral (H1N1) pneumonia (22.2%; P < 0.05), mainly displayed an US pattern of alveolar consolidation. Finally, a positive US pattern of interstitial syndrome was found in five of 33 controls (15.1%). False negatives were found in two (5.9%) of 34 cases, and false positives, in five (15.1%) of 33 cases, with sensitivity of 94.1%, specificity of 84.8%, positive predictive value of 86.5%, and negative predictive value of 93.3%. Conclusions Bedside chest US represents an effective tool for diagnosing pneumonia in the Emergency Department. It can accurately provide early-stage detection of patients with (H1N1)v pneumonia having an initial normal CRx. Its routine integration into their clinical management is proposed.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG (Allschwilerstrasse 10, P.O. Box · Postfach · Case postale, CH–4009, Basel, Switzerland · Schweiz · Suisse, Phone: +41 61 306 11 11, Fax: +41 61 306 12 34, )
                22 June 2020
                : 1-8
                aGeriatric-Rehabilitation Department, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Parma, Parma, Italy
                bDepartment of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Parma, Italy
                cDiagnostic Department, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Parma, Parma, Italy
                dGeneral and Specialized Surgical Department, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Parma, Parma, Italy
                eFaculty of Medicine, University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy
                Author notes
                *Andrea Ticinesi, Geriatric-Rehabilitation Department, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Parma, Via Antonio Gramsci 14, IT–43126 Parma (Italy), or andrea.ticinesi@
                Copyright © 2020 by S. Karger AG, Basel

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or until permissions are revoked in writing. Upon expiration of these permissions, PMC is granted a perpetual license to make this article available via PMC and Europe PMC, consistent with existing copyright protections.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 2, References: 39, Pages: 8
                Interventional Pulmonology


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