Frequency of pleural effusion in dengue patients by severity, age and imaging modality: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Molly D Kaagaard, Luan Oliveira Matos, Marliton V P Evangelista, Alma Wegener, Anna Engell Holm, Lasse S Vestergaard, Suiane C N Do Valle, Odilson M Silvestre, Marcus Vinícius Guimarães Lacerda, Rodrigo Medeiros de Souza, Flavia Barreto Dos Santos, Tor Biering-Sørensen, Philip Brainin

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BACKGROUND: Identification of pleural effusion (PE) in dengue infection is an objective measure of plasma leakage and may predict disease progression. However, no studies have systematically assessed the frequency of PE in patients with dengue, and whether this differs across age and imaging modality.

METHODS: We searched Pubmed, Embase Web of Science and Lilacs (period 1900-2021) for studies reporting on PE in dengue patients (hospitalized and outpatient). We defined PE as fluid in the thoracic cavity detected by any imaging test. The study was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42021228862). Complicated dengue was defined as hemorrhagic fever, dengue shock syndrome or severe dengue.

RESULTS: The search identified 2,157 studies of which 85 studies were eligible for inclusion. The studies (n = 31 children, n = 10 adults, n = 44 mixed age) involved 12,800 patients (30% complicated dengue). The overall frequency of PE was 33% [95%CI: 29 to 37%] and the rate of PE increased significantly with disease severity (P = 0.001) such that in complicated vs. uncomplicated dengue the frequencies were 48% and 17% (P < 0.001). When assessing all studies, PE occurred significantly more often in children compared to adults (43% vs. 13%, P = 0.002) and lung ultrasound more frequently detected PE than conventional chest X-ray (P = 0.023).

CONCLUSIONS: We found that 1/3 of dengue patients presented with PE and the frequency increased with severity and younger age. Importantly, lung ultrasound demonstrated the highest rate of detection. Our findings suggest that PE is a relatively common finding in dengue and that bedside imaging tools, such as lung ultrasound, potentially may enhance detection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number327
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2023


  • Adult
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Severe Dengue/complications
  • Exudates and Transudates
  • Pleural Effusion/diagnostic imaging
  • Plasma
  • Ultrasonography
  • Dengue/complications


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