Lung ultrasound is more accurate than chest x-ray for the diagnosis of COVID-19 pneumonia
Researchers and researchers from IDIAP Jordi Gol, from Lleida Primary Care and from the University of Lleida (UdL) have recently published a study that determines that lung ultrasound is more accurate than chest radiography to diagnose pneumonia caused by COVID -19. The research, carried out with the participation of more than 200 patients from CAP Balaguer between March and September 2020, has been carried out with the collaboration of the La Noguera County Council. The study, entitled ‘Higher accuracy of lung ultrasound over chest X-ray for early diagnosis of Covid-19 pneumonia’, has been published in the high-impact journal International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
As explained by the study authors (Javier Martínez, José María Palacín, Jesús Pujol, Cristina García, Montse Crespo, Carles Comas and Marta Ortega), the early diagnosis of pneumonia due to COVID-19 is of vital importance to begin the most appropriate treatment in initial stages of the disease. Taking into account that most of the patients with COVID-19 are cared for in primary care, the fact that the results of the study prove that lung ultrasound is the most accurate tool available at this level of care to identify which COVID-19 patients can develop pneumonia, especially those with severe interstitial disease. In these cases, the capacity of ultrasound to detect the seriously ill is 100%, according to published results.
The median age of the patients included in this study is 49 years; 58% are men and the most common symptom they presented was fever in 72% of the cases. Only 3.7% of the patients presented at the time of admission the four symptoms associated with COVID-19 (cough, respiratory distress, fever above 37 ° C and oxygen saturation below 95%).
Marta Ortega, head of the Professional Development area of the Lleida Primary Care Directorate, explains that the incorporation of ultrasound as a test for patients with COVID-19 suspected of pneumonia will help improve decision-making by physicians regarding to the patient, and optimize care resources.
According to the study, the negative predictive value of ultrasound is very relevant and, as a consequence, this diagnostic tool makes it possible to rule out pulmonary pathology and avoid referrals to hospital emergency services.
Likewise, Marta Ortega reports that, in recent years, in the Lleida territory the use of ultrasound has been progressively implemented in primary care in order to complement the assessment of the patient at the point of care and, during the pandemic, This has made it possible to diagnose patients with COVID-19 pneumonia even in the initial phases of the pandemic, when RT-PCR tests were not available. The training and implementation of the use of ultrasound in primary care in Lleida as a strategic line for health professionals began in 2012 and has continued annually to date. This effort has been rewarded with this publication, which is the second scientific article published by primary care professionals on this subject worldwide.