Intern Emerg Med. 2021 Apr 21. doi: 10.1007/s11739-021-02643-w. Online ahead of print.
In December 2019, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV-2) spread worldwide, challenging emergency departments (EDs) with the need of rapid diagnosis for appropriate allocation in dedicated setting. Many authors highlighted the role of lung ultrasound (LUS) in management of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The study aims to analyze the performance of LUS in the early identification of COVID-19 patients in ED during a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. We prospectively collected consecutive adult patients admitted to a first-level ED in Powered by Editorial Manager® and ProduXion Manager® from Aries Systems Corporation Florence with history or symptoms suggestive for COVID-19 that underwent LUS during the ED management. LUS findings were categorized in 6 discrete main etiological patterns. "A", "Cardiogenic B" and "Typical C" patterns were referred as non-COVID-19-suggestive, while "Atypical" B or C patterns, "Multiple Consolidations" pattern and "ARDS" pattern were referred as COVID-19-suggestive. The primary outcome was the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection. From 12 March to 12 May 2020, 360 patients were enrolled. COVID-19 suggestive LUS findings were significantly associated with final COVID-19 diagnosis (86% in COVID-19 vs 29% in non-COVID-19, p < 0.001). The presence in ED of at least one in positive swab OR a COVID-19-suggestive LUS showed a sensitivity of 97% and a negative predictive value (NPV) of 98%. In patients with known SARS-CoV-2 exposition in the last 14 days, a COVID-19-suggestive pattern at LUS had a positive predictive value (PPV) of 97% for COVID-19 diagnosis. Point-of-care ultrasound (PoCUS) is a valuable tool for diagnostic stratification during COVID-19 outbreaks. LUS can help physicians in identifying false-negative RT-PCR, improving its diagnostic sensitivity in ED.