Medicine (Baltimore). 2022 Aug 19;101(33):e30119. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000030119.
To explore the value of ultrasonography in the auxiliary diagnosis of pleural effusion, we retrospectively analyzed the ultrasonographic findings of 275 exudates and 307 transudates and summarized the ultrasonographic image features of pleural effusion according to patients' primary diseases. The findings of thoracic ultrasonography performed before the initial thoracentesis in 582 patients with subsequently confirmed exudative/transudative pleural effusion were analyzed with regard to the sonographic features of pleural effusion. In 275 cases with exudates, thoracic ultrasonography showed a complex septate appearance in 19 cases (6.9%), complex nonseptate appearance in 100 cases (36.4%), complex homogenous sign in 46 cases (16.7%), and pleural thickness > 3 mm in 105 cases. In contrast, in 307 patients with transudates, most patients (97.1%) had bilateral pleural effusion. Ultrasonographic images displayed anechoic appearance and absence of pleural thickening in a vast majority of cases (306, 99.7%; 301, 98%). These positive findings in the exudate were statistically higher than those in their counterparts (P < .05). In the empyema subgroup, the proportion of complex septate appearance, complex nonseptate appearance, complex homogenous sign, and pleural thickening was the highest, at 19/41, 12/41, 10/41, and 30/41, respectively. Ultrasonography is valuable in defining the nature of pleural effusion. Some sonographic features of pleural effusion, such as echogenicity, septation, and pleural thickening, may indicate a high risk of exudative pleural effusion.