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Emergency thoracic ultrasound and clinical risk management

Authors Interrigi MC, Trovato FM, Catalano D, Trovato GM

Received 5 November 2016

Accepted for publication 8 January 2017

Published 9 February 2017 Volume 2017:13 Pages 151—160

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/TCRM.S126770

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Garry Walsh

Supplementary video displaying the main features of the conditions detected by thoracic ultrasound in emergency medicine.

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Maria Concetta Interrigi,1 Francesca M Trovato,2,3 Daniela Catalano,3,4 Guglielmo M Trovato3,5

1Accident and Emergency Department, Ospedale Cannizzaro, Catania, 2Accident and Emergency Department, Ospedale Civile, Ragusa, 3Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, The School of Medicine, University of Catania, 4Postgraduate School of Clinical Ultrasound, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Policlinico, University of Catania, 5Postgraduate School of e-Learning and ICT in Health Sciences, The School of Medicine, University of Catania, Catania, Italy

Purpose: Thoracic ultrasound (TUS) has been proposed as an easy-option replacement for chest X-ray (CXR) in emergency diagnosis of pneumonia, pleural effusion, and pneumothorax. We investigated CXR unforeseen diagnosis, subsequently investigated by TUS, considering its usefulness in clinical risk assessment and management and also assessing the sustainability of telementoring.
Patients and methods: This observational report includes a period of 6 months with proactive concurrent adjunctive TUS diagnosis telementoring, which was done using freely available smartphone applications for transfer of images and movies.
Results: Three hundred and seventy emergency TUS scans (excluding trauma patients) were performed and telementored. In 310 cases, no significant chest pathology was detected either by CXR, TUS, or the subsequent work-up; in 24 patients, there was full concordance between TUS and CXR (ten isolated pleural effusion; eleven pleural effusion with lung consolidations; and three lung consolidation without pleural effusion); in ten patients with lung consolidations, abnormalities identified by CXR were not detected by TUS. In 26 patients, only TUS diagnosis criteria of disease were present: in 19 patients, CXR was not diagnostic, ie, substantially negative, but TUS detected these conditions correctly, and these were later confirmed by computed tomography (CT). In seven patients, even if chest disease was identified by CXR, such diagnoses were significantly modified by ultrasound, and CT confirmed that TUS was more appropriate. The overall respective individual performances of CXR and TUS for the diagnosis of a pleural–pulmonary disease in emergency are good, with accuracy >95%.
Conclusion:
About 20% of pneumonia cases were detectable only by CXR and 20% only by TUS and not by CXR; ie, about 40% of patients may have been misdiagnosed if, by chance, only one of the two tools had been used. The concurrent use of TUS and CXR increases the overall sensitivity and specificity. The contribution of expert telementoring and final reappraisal is a valuable and sustainable element for emergency physicians’ training and performance, contributing reasonably to mitigation of clinical risks.

Keywords:
echography, pneumonia, pneumothorax, pleural effusion, diagnostic performance

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