Comparing lung ultrasound: extensive versus short in COVID-19 (CLUES): a multicentre, observational study at the emergency department

BACKGROUND Bedside lung ultrasound (LUS) is an affordable diagnostic tool that could contribute to identifying COVID-19 pneumonia. Different LUS protocols are currently used at the emergency department (ED) and there is a need to know their diagnostic accuracy.
DESIGN A multicentre, prospective, observational study, to compare the diagnostic accuracy of three commonly used LUS protocols in identifying COVID-19 pneumonia at the ED.
SETTING/PATIENTS Adult patients with suspected COVID-19 at the ED, in whom we prospectively performed 12-zone LUS and SARS-CoV-2 reverse transcription PCR.
MEASUREMENTS We assessed diagnostic accuracy for three different ultrasound protocols using both PCR and final diagnosis as a reference standard.
RESULTS Between 19 March 2020 and 4 May 2020, 202 patients were included. Sensitivity, specificity and negative predictive value compared with PCR for 12-zone LUS were 91.4% (95% CI 84.4 to 96.0), 83.5% (95% CI 74.6 to 90.3) and 90.0% (95% CI 82.7 to 94.4). For 8-zone and 6-zone protocols, these results were 79.7 (95% CI 69.9 to 87.6), 69.0% (95% CI 59.6 to 77.4) and 81.3% (95% CI 73.8 to 87.0) versus 89.9% (95% CI 81.7 to 95.3), 57.5% (95% CI 47.9 to 66.8) and 87.8% (95% CI 79.2 to 93.2). Negative likelihood ratios for 12, 8 and 6 zones were 0.1, 0.3 and 0.2, respectively. Compared with the final diagnosis specificity increased to 83.5% (95% CI 74.6 to 90.3), 78.4% (95% CI 68.8 to 86.1) and 65.0% (95% CI 54.6 to 74.4), respectively, while the negative likelihood ratios were 0.1, 0.2 and 0.16.
CONCLUSION Identifying COVID-19 pneumonia at the ED can be aided by bedside LUS. The more efficient 6-zone protocol is an excellent screening tool, while the 12-zone protocol is more specific and gives a general impression on lung involvement.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER NL8497.

as reported in: BMJ Open. 2021 09 16; 11(9): e048795