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Dublin: 10°C Tuesday 24 May 2022

Ultrasounds could replace radiography for detecting pneumonia in children

This could mean that more children could be diagnosed, especially in resource-limited settings.

Image: child via Shutterstock

ULTRASOUNDS COULD BE an equally accurate method for detecting pneumonia in children compared with chest x-rays.

That’s according to a recent study which compared ultrasonography with chest radiography for detecting pneumonia in children.

It suggests that this could mean that more children could be diagnosed, especially in resource-limited settings.

The children would also be exposed to less radiation.

The research was carried out by Dr Lilliam Ambroggio at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, USA.


The study enrolled patients aged 3 months to 18 years with a clinically ordered CT or admitted to the hospital with a respiratory condition.

Main exposures were chest ultrasound and x-ray findings read by four radiologists blinded to the clinical diagnosis of the patient.

The authors were able to determine the accuracy of both methods by comparing them to the CT reference standard.

The researchers found that, when compared with chest X-rays, ultrasound may be more sensitive (identifying more true positive results) and less specific (less true negative results) than chest x-rays in detecting consolidations and pleural effusions, both common indicators of pneumonia.

However overall the two techniques were statistically equivalent.

Dr Ambroggio said:

Ultrasound and chest radiography in our study were statistically equivalent, suggesting the potential for chest ultrasonography to replace chest x-rays in detecting pneumonia in children, particularly in outpatient and resource-limited settings.

“The advent of ultrasound technology in the diagnosis of pneumonia in developing countries is potentially easier to establish as the infrastructure needed to perform and interpret a chest ultrasound is much less than what is needed to perform a chest radiograph.”

The research was presented at the annual meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases in Dublin.

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