ERJ Open Res. 2020 Nov 10;6(4):00464-2020. doi: 10.1183/23120541.00464-2020. eCollection 2020 Oct.
This systematic review aimed to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of thoracic ultrasound in malignant pleural effusion. Articles published until December 2019 in MEDLINE, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform were screened by two authors independently to extract data and evaluate the risks of bias and applicability using the modified Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies-2 tool. We described the forest plots of each thoracic ultrasound finding. We estimated the pooled sensitivity and specificity of pleural nodularity using the bivariate random-effects model. We included seven articles and found that each thoracic ultrasound finding had low sensitivity. The pooled specificity of pleural nodularity was 96.9% (95% CI 93.2%-98.6%). In conclusion, thoracic ultrasound is not useful in ruling out malignant pleural effusion. Physicians can proceed rigorously to repeat thoracentesis or other invasive procedures when pleural nodularity is detected.