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In Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America

BACKGROUND : Point-of-care lung ultrasound (LUS) is a promising pragmatic risk stratification tool in COVID-19. This study describes and compares LUS characteristics between patients with different clinical outcomes.

METHODS : Prospective observational study of PCR-confirmed COVID-19 adults with symptoms of lower respiratory tract infection in the emergency department (ED) of Lausanne University Hospital. A trained physician recorded LUS images using a standardized protocol. Two experts reviewed images blinded to patient outcome. We describe and compare early LUS findings (acquired within 24hours of presentation to the ED) between patient groups based on their outcome at 7 days after inclusion: 1) outpatients, 2) hospitalised and 3) intubated/death. Normalized LUS score was used to discriminate between groups.

RESULTS : Between March 6 and April 3 2020, we included 80 patients (17 outpatients, 42 hospitalized and 21 intubated/dead). 73 patients (91%) had abnormal LUS (70% outpatients, 95% hospitalised and 100% intubated/death; p=0.003). The proportion of involved zones was lower in outpatients compared with other groups (median 30% [IQR 0-40%], 44% [31-70%] and 70% [50-88%], p<0.001). Predominant abnormal patterns were bilateral and multifocal spread thickening of the pleura with pleural line irregularities (70%), confluent B lines (60%) and pathologic B lines (50%). Posterior inferior zones were more often affected. Median normalized LUS score had a good level of discrimination between outpatients and others with area under the ROC of 0.80 (95% CI 0.68-0.92).

CONCLUSIONS : Systematic LUS has potential as a reliable, cheap and easy-to-use triage tool for the early risk stratification in COVID-19 patients presenting in EDs.

Brahier Thomas, Meuwly Jean-Yves, Pantet Olivier, Brochu Vez Marie-Josée, Gerhard Donnet Hélène, Hartley Mary-Anne, Hugli Olivier, Boillat-Blanco Noémie


COVID-19, LUS score, Lung ultrasound, Triage tool