J Ultrasound Med. 2021 May 1. doi: 10.1002/jum.15731. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: Although the evidence to date remains limited, we hypothesized that performing protocolized lung ultrasound (LUS) in patients, admitted to a conventional pulmonology hospitalization unit, could improve diagnostic precision. The main objectives of this study were to evaluate the diagnostic contribution and changes in the treatments administered after performing a protocolized LUS in patients hospitalized in a Pulmonology Department ward.
METHODOLOGY: This was a prospective, observational study, which included patients admitted from the Emergency Department to a conventional Pulmonology Department hospitalization unit, after first being evaluated by a pulmonologist. LUS was performed within the first 48 hours of admission. The diagnosis at the time of discharge was used as the reference diagnosis.
RESULTS: A total of 180 patients were included in this study. The admitting diagnoses were the decompensation of an underlying obstructive disease in 60 patients (33.3%), respiratory infection in 93 (51.7%), pulmonary thromboembolism (PE) in 9 (5%), exacerbation of an interstitial lung disease in 14 (7.8%), and other causes in 4 cases (2.2%). Ultrasonography provided new information, unsuspected at the patient's admission, in 117 (65%) of the patients by capturing images suggestive of infection in 63 patients (35%), 1 new case of ILD, 23 (12.7%) cases of cardiogenic edema, and pleural pathology in 19 (10.5%), as well as two tumors and indirect data related to a PE. The use of LUS resulted in the decision to change the already established treatment in 17.2% of the cases.
CONCLUSIONS: LUS provided additive information in more than half of patients that ended up reclassifying or potentially changing diagnosis or treatment. Thus, including LUS in management algorithms could reduce the need for other complementary tests or unnecessary treatments.