Background: Lung ultrasonography (LUS) has emerged as a noninvasive tool for the differential diagnosis of pulmonary diseases. However, its use for the diagnosis of acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) still raises some concerns. We tested the hypothesis that an integrated approach implementing LUS with clinical assessment would have higher diagnostic accuracy than a standard workup in differentiating ADHF from noncardiogenic dyspnea in the ED.
Methods: We conducted a multicenter, prospective cohort study in seven Italian EDs. For patients presenting with acute dyspnea, the emergency physician was asked to categorize the diagnosis as ADHF or noncardiogenic dyspnea after (1) the initial clinical assessment and (2) after performing LUS ("LUS-implemented" diagnosis). All patients also underwent chest radiography. After discharge, the cause of each patient's dyspnea was determined by independent review of the entire medical record. The diagnostic accuracy of the different approaches was then compared.
Results: The study enrolled 1,005 patients. The LUS-implemented approach had a significantly higher accuracy (sensitivity, 97% [95% CI, 95%-98.3%]; specificity, 97.4% [95% CI, 95.7%-98.6%]) in differentiating ADHF from noncardiac causes of acute dyspnea than the initial clinical workup (sensitivity, 85.3% [95% CI, 81.8%-88.4%]; specificity, 90% [95% CI, 87.2%-92.4%]), chest radiography alone (sensitivity, 69.5% [95% CI, 65.1%-73.7%]; specificity, 82.1% [95% CI, 78.6%-85.2%]), and natriuretic peptides (sensitivity, 85% [95% CI, 80.3%-89%]; specificity, 61.7% [95% CI, 54.6%-68.3%]; n = 486). Net reclassification index of the LUS-implemented approach compared with standard workup was 19.1%.
Conclusions: The implementation of LUS with the clinical evaluation may improve accuracy of ADHF diagnosis in patients presenting to the ED.
Trial registry: Clinicaltrials.gov; No.: NCT01287429; URL: www.clinicaltrials.gov.