[Diagnostic value of transthoracic ultrasound compared to chest radiography in the detection of a post-interventional pneumothorax]

Ultraschall Med. 2011 Dec;32 Suppl 2:E20-3. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1273316. Epub 2011 May 31.
[Article in German]


Purpose: Chest radiography is standard for the diagnosis of a pneumothorax. However, also ultrasound of the chest has considerable value in the detection of a pneumothorax. A typical sonographic feature is the lack of the lung gliding sign. Aim of our trial was to evaluate the significance of ultrasound of the chest in the diagnosis of a pneumothorax supplemented by using power colour Doppler imaging.

Patients and methods: Following transbronchial biopsy, patients received transthoracic ultrasound of the chest for evaluation of a pneumothorax. Immediately afterwards, a chest radiograph was performed and results were compared.

Results: 1023 patients (321 female, 702 male, median age 47 years) were examined. In 30 patients (2.9%) chest radiograph revealed a pneumothorax, while in ultrasound of the chest a pneumothorax was diagnosed in 36 of the cases. Defining chest radiography as gold standard, ultrasound of the chest had a sensitivity of 100%, a specificity of 83% and an accuracy of 99%.

Conclusion: Transthoracic ultrasound of the chest is a highly sensitive and specific diagnostic tool in the diagnosis of a pneumothorax. In comparison to chest radiography, it is better available and prevents administration of ionizing radiation. However, a disadvantage of ultrasound is the lack of quantification of a pneumothorax and the assessment of the indication for chest tube drainage.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy / adverse effects*
  • Bronchi / pathology*
  • Bronchoscopy / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / diagnosis*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumothorax / diagnosis*
  • Pneumothorax / pathology
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis*
  • Postoperative Complications / pathology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography, Thoracic*
  • Respiratory-Gated Imaging Techniques
  • Sarcoidosis, Pulmonary / diagnosis*
  • Sarcoidosis, Pulmonary / pathology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Thoracic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Thoracic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ultrasonography*
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler / methods*