Additional Up-Front Thoracic Ultrasound in the Workup of Patients with Unilateral Pleural Effusion: A Prospective Observational Pilot Study

Katrine Fjaellegaard, Jesper Koefod Petersen, Paul Frost Clementsen, Christian B Laursen, Rahul Bhatnagar, Uffe Bodtger

Abstract

BACKGROUND: In patients with pleural effusion, specific ultrasound characteristics are associated with pleural malignancy.

OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to evaluate the added value of an additional, up-front, systematic thoracic ultrasound (TUS) to standard imaging in patients with unilateral pleural effusion of unknown cause in a clinical setting.

METHODS: In a prospective observational pilot study, patients referred for workup and thoracentesis of a unilateral pleural effusion received up-front TUS following a set protocol in addition to available imaging and US guiding the thoracentesis or diagnostic puncture. The primary outcome was the proportion of cases where systematic TUS changed the planned diagnostic workup. Follow-up took place 26 weeks after inclusion.

RESULTS: From February to December 2020, 55 patients were included. Thirty-six (65%) patients had other chest imaging available before TUS. Twenty-one (38%) were diagnosed with malignant pleural effusion. Three patients (5%) had clinically relevant changes in the diagnostic workup after additional systematic TUS.

CONCLUSIONS: Additional up-front, systematic TUS had limited clinically relevant effect on the planned diagnostic workup in patients with unilateral pleural effusion in a setting where chest CT scans often are available at referral.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRespiration; international review of thoracic diseases
Volume102
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)377-385
Number of pages9
ISSN0025-7931
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023

Keywords

  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant/etiology
  • Pleural Effusion/diagnostic imaging
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography/methods

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