Utility of ultrasound assessment of diaphragmatic function before and after pulmonary rehabilitation in COPD patients

Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2018 Oct 8:13:3131-3139. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S171134. eCollection 2018.


Background: Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) may improve respiratory symptoms and skeletal muscle strength in patients with COPD. We aimed to evaluate changes in ultrasound (US) measurements of diaphragmatic mobility and thickness after PR in COPD patients and to test its correlation with PR outcomes.

Methods: Twenty-five COPD patients were enrolled and underwent a diaphragm US assessment before and after a 12-week PR program.

Results: We found a correlation between the intraindividual percentage of change in the diaphragmatic length of zone of apposition at functional residual capacity (ΔLzapp%) and the change in 6-minute walking distance (6MWD) after PR (rho=0.49, P=0.02). ΔLzapp% was significantly higher in patients with improved 6MWD and COPD Assessment Test (CAT) score (mean rank=12.03±2.57 vs 6.88±4.37; P=0.02). A ΔLzapp% of ≥10% was able to discriminate among patients with improved 6MWD, with a sensitivity of 83% and a specificity of 74%. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for ΔLzapp% was 0.83. A cutoff value of ≥9% of ΔLzapp% had a positive predictive value in discriminating a reduction in ≥2 points of CAT score after PR, with a sensitivity and a specificity of 80% and 62%, respectively.

Conclusion: Diaphragm US assessment represents a useful prognostic marker of PR outcomes in COPD patients.

Keywords: COPD; diaphragm ultrasound; pulmonary rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diaphragm* / diagnostic imaging
  • Diaphragm* / physiopathology
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / rehabilitation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography* / methods
  • Ultrasonography* / statistics & numerical data