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Standardized evaluation of lung congestion during COPD exacerbation better identifies patients at risk of dying

Authors Høiseth AD, Omland T, Karlsson BD, Brekke PH, Søyseth V

Received 12 August 2013

Accepted for publication 7 September 2013

Published 6 December 2013 Volume 2013:8 Pages 621—629


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Arne Didrik Høiseth,1 Torbjørn Omland,1 Bo Daniel Karlsson,2 Pål H Brekke,1 Vidar Søyseth1

1Cardiothoracic Research Group, Division of Medicine, Akershus University Hospital and Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway; 2Deptartment of Radiology, Akershus University Hospital, Lørenskog, Norway

Background: Congestive heart failure is underdiagnosed in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Pulmonary congestion on chest radiograph at admission for acute exacerbation of COPD (AECOPD) is associated with an increased risk of mortality. A standardized evaluation of chest radiographs may enhance prognostic accuracy.
Purpose: We aimed to evaluate whether a standardized, liberal assessment of pulmonary congestion is superior to the routine assessment in identifying patients at increased risk of long-term mortality, and to investigate the association of heart failure with N-terminal prohormone of brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) concentrations.
Material and methods: This was a prospective cohort study of 99 patients admitted for AECOPD. Chest radiographs obtained on admission were routinely evaluated and then later evaluated by blinded investigators using a standardized protocol looking for Kerley B lines, enlarged vessels in the lung apex, perihilar cuffing, peribronchial haze, and interstitial or alveolar edema, defining the presence of pulmonary congestion. Adjusted associations with long-term mortality and NT-proBNP concentration were calculated.
Results: The standardized assessment was positive for pulmonary congestion in 32 of the 195 radiographs (16%) ruled negative in the routine assessment. The standardized assessment was superior in predicting death during a median follow up of 1.9 years (P=0.022), and in multivariable analysis, only the standardized assessment showed a significant association with mortality (hazard ratio 2.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2–4.7) (P=0.016) and NT-proBNP (relative concentration 1.8, CI 1.2–2.6) (P=0.003).
Conclusion: By applying a standardized approach when evaluating pulmonary congestion on chest radiographs during AECOPD, a group of patients with increased risk of dying, possibly due to heart failure, is identified.

Keywords: heart failure, radiograph, NT-proBNP, mortality, X-ray, cephalization

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