Crit Care Med. 2023 Mar 1;51(3):357-364. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000005760. Epub 2022 Dec 23.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate the impact of thoracic ultrasound (TUS) examinations on clinical management in adult ICU patients.
DESIGN: A prospective international observational study.
SETTING: Four centers in The Netherlands and Italy.
PATIENTS: Adult ICU patients (> 18 yr) that received a clinically indicated lung ultrasound examination.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Clinicians performing TUS completed a pre- and post-examination case report form. Patient characteristics, TUS, and resulting clinical effects were recorded. First, change of management, defined as a TUS-induced change in clinical impression leading to a change in treatment plan, was reported. Second, execution of intended management changes within 8 hours was verified. Third, change in fluid balance after 8 hours was calculated. A total of 725 TUS performed by 111 operators across 534 patients (mean age 63 ± 15.0, 70% male) were included. Almost half of TUS caused a change in clinical impression, which resulted in change of management in 39% of cases. The remainder of TUS confirmed the clinical impression, while a minority (4%) did not contribute. Eighty-nine percent of management changes indicated by TUS were executed within 8 hours. TUS examinations that led to a change in fluid management also led to distinct and appropriate changes in patient's fluid balance.
CONCLUSIONS: In this international observational study in adult ICU patients, use of TUS had a major impact on clinical management. These results provide grounds for future randomized controlled trials to determine if TUS-induced changes in decision-making also lead to improved health outcomes.