Ultrasound Med Biol. 2021 Aug 5:S0301-5629(21)00303-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2021.07.006. Online ahead of print.
Chronic liver disease (CLD) may be associated with pleural effusions (PEs). This article prospectively evaluates whether detection of PEs on thoracic ultrasound (TUS) at the bedside independently predicts mortality and length of stay (LOS) in hospitalized patients with a decompensated CLD. A total of 116 consecutive inpatients with decompensated cirrhosis underwent antero-posterior chest radiographs (CXR) and TUS to detect PEs. Their median age was 54 y (interquartile range, 47-62), 90 (70.6%) were male, and 61 (52.6%) fell into the Child-Pugh class C categorization. TUS identified PEs in 58 (50%) patients, half of which were small enough to preclude thoracentesis. CXR failed to recognize approximately 40% of PEs seen on TUS. The identification of PEs by TUS was associated with a longer LOS (10 vs. 5.5 d, p < 0.001) and double mortality (39.7% vs. 20.7%, p = 0.021). In multivariate analysis, PEs were independently related to poor survival (hazard ratio 2.08, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02-4.25; p = 0.044). Patients with both Child-Pugh C stage and PEs had the lowest survival rate (70 vs. 317 d, p = 0.001). In conclusion, PEs identified by TUS in hospitalized patients with decompensated CLD independently predict a poor outcome and portend a longer LOS.