Novel use of pleural ultrasound can identify malignant entrapped lung prior to effusion drainage

Chest. 2014 Nov;146(5):1286-1293. doi: 10.1378/chest.13-2876.


Background: The presence of entrapped lung changes the appropriate management of malignant pleural effusion from pleurodesis to insertion of an indwelling pleural catheter. No methods currently exist to identify entrapped lung prior to effusion drainage. Our objectives were to develop a method to identify entrapped lung using tissue movement and deformation (strain) analysis with ultrasonography and compare it to the existing technique of pleural elastance (PEL).

Methods: Prior to drainage, 81 patients with suspected malignant pleural effusion underwent thoracic ultrasound using an echocardiogram machine. Images of the atelectatic lower lobe were acquired during breath hold, allowing motion and strain related to the cardiac impulse to be analyzed using motion mode (M mode) and speckle-tracking imaging, respectively. PEL was measured during effusion drainage. The gold-standard diagnosis of entrapped lung was the consensus opinion of two interventional pulmonologists according to postdrainage imaging. Participants were randomly divided into development and validation sets.

Results: Both total movement and strain were significantly reduced in entrapped lung. Using data from the development set, the area under the receiver-operating curves for the diagnosis of entrapped lung was 0.86 (speckle tracking), 0.79 (M mode), and 0.69 (PEL). Using respective cutoffs of 6%, 1 mm, and 19 cm H2O on the validation set, the sensitivity/specificity was 71%/85% (speckle tracking), 50%/85% (M mode), and 40%/100% (PEL).

Conclusions: This novel ultrasound technique can identify entrapped lung prior to effusion drainage, which could allow appropriate choice of definitive management (pleurodesis vs indwelling catheter), reducing the number of interventions required to treat malignant pleural effusion.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Drainage / methods*
  • Elasticity
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleura / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pleura / physiopathology
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • ROC Curve
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography