Background: There are few prospective evaluations of point-of-care ultrasonography (US) for the diagnosis of pediatric community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). In particular, there are very few data concerning the efficiency of US in comparison with that of chest radiography (CR) in defining different kinds of lung alterations in the various pulmonary sections. The aim of this study was to bridge this gap in order to increase our knowledge of the performance of US in diagnosing CAP in childhood.
Methods: A total of 103 children (56 males, 54.4%; mean age ± standard deviation 5.6 ± 4.6 years) admitted to hospital with a clinical diagnosis of suspected CAP were prospectively enrolled and underwent CR (evaluated by an independent expert radiologist) and lung US (performed by a resident in paediatrics with limited experience in US). The performance of US in diagnosing CAP (i.e. its sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values) was compared with that of CR.
Results: A total of 48 patients had radiographically confirmed CAP. The sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of US in comparison with CR were respectively 97.9%, 94.5%, 94.0% and 98.1%. US identified a significantly higher number of cases of pleural effusion, but the concordance of the two methods in identifying the type of CAP was poor.
Conclusion: US can be considered a useful means of diagnosing CAP in children admitted to an Emergency Department with a lower respiratory tract infection, although its usefulness in identifying the type of lung involvement requires further evaluation.