Diagnostic use of lung ultrasound compared to chest radiograph for suspected pneumonia in a resource-limited setting

Int J Emerg Med. 2018 Mar 12;11(1):8. doi: 10.1186/s12245-018-0170-2.


Background: Lung ultrasound is an effective tool for diagnosing pneumonia in developed countries. Diagnostic accuracy in resource-limited countries where pneumonia is the leading cause of death is unknown. The objective of this study was to evaluate the sensitivity of bedside lung ultrasound compared to chest X-ray for pneumonia in adults presenting for emergency care in a low-income country.

Methods: Patients presenting to the emergency department with suspected pneumonia were evaluated with bedside lung ultrasound, single posterioranterior chest radiograph, and computed tomography (CT). Using CT as the gold standard, the sensitivity of lung ultrasound was compared to chest X-ray for the diagnosis of pneumonia using McNemar's test for paired samples. Diagnostic characteristics for each test were calculated.

Results: Of 62 patients included in the study, 44 (71%) were diagnosed with pneumonia by CT. Lung ultrasound demonstrated a sensitivity of 91% compared to chest X-ray which had a sensitivity of 73% (p = 0.01). Specificity of lung ultrasound and chest X-ray were 61 and 50% respectively.

Conclusions: Bedside lung ultrasound demonstrated better sensitivity than chest X-ray for the diagnosis of pneumonia in Nepal.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, registration number NCT02949141 . Registered 31 October 2016.

Keywords: Developing countries; Diagnosis; Lung ultrasound; Nepal; Pneumonia.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02949141