Objective: To determine the accuracy of point-of-care ultrasonography for the diagnosis of pneumonia in children and young adults by a group of clinicians.
Design: Prospective observational cohort study.
Setting: Two urban emergency departments.
Participants: Patients from birth to age 21 years undergoing chest radiography for suspected community-acquired pneumonia.
Intervention: After documenting clinical examination findings, clinicians with 1 hour of focused training used ultrasonography to diagnose pneumonia in children and young adults.
Main outcomes measures: Test performance characteristics for the ability of ultrasonography to diagnose pneumonia were determined using chest radiography as a reference standard. Subgroup analysis was performed in patients having lung consolidation exceeding 1 cm with sonographic air bronchograms detected on ultrasonography; specificity and positive likelihood ratio (LR) were calculated to account for lung consolidation of 1 cm or less with sonographic air bronchograms undetectable by chest radiography.
Results: Two hundred patients were studied (median age, 3 years; interquartile range, 1-8 years); 56.0% were male, and the prevalence of pneumonia by chest radiography was 18.0%. Ultrasonography had an overall sensitivity of 86% (95% CI, 71%-94%), specificity of 89% (95% CI, 83%-93%), positive LR of 7.8 (95% CI, 5.0-12.4), and negative LR of 0.2 (95% CI, 0.1-0.4) for diagnosing pneumonia by visualizing lung consolidation with sonographic air bronchograms. In subgroup analysis of 187 patients having lung consolidation exceeding 1 cm, ultrasonography had a sensitivity of 86% (95% CI, 71%-94%), specificity of 97% (95% CI, 93%-99%), positive LR of 28.2 (95% CI, 11.8-67.6) and negative LR of 0.1 (95% CI, 0.1-0.3) for diagnosing pneumonia.
Conclusion: Clinicians are able to diagnose pneumonia in children and young adults using point-of-care ultrasonography, with high specificity.