Objective To determine the accuracy of point-of-care ultrasonography for the diagnosis of pneumonia in children and young adults by a group of clinicians.
Design Prospective observational cohort study.
Setting Two urban emergency departments.
Participants Patients from birth to age 21 years undergoing chest radiography for suspected community-acquired pneumonia.
Intervention After documenting clinical examination findings, clinicians with 1 hour of focused training used ultrasonography to diagnose pneumonia in children and young adults.
Main Outcomes Measures Test performance characteristics for the ability of ultrasonography to diagnose pneumonia were determined using chest radiography as a reference standard. Subgroup analysis was performed in patients having lung consolidation exceeding 1 cm with sonographic air bronchograms detected on ultrasonography; specificity and positive likelihood ratio (LR) were calculated to account for lung consolidation of 1 cm or less with sonographic air bronchograms undetectable by chest radiography.
Results Two hundred patients were studied (median age, 3 years; interquartile range, 1-8 years); 56.0% were male, and the prevalence of pneumonia by chest radiography was 18.0%. Ultrasonography had an overall sensitivity of 86% (95% CI, 71%-94%), specificity of 89% (95% CI, 83%-93%), positive LR of 7.8 (95% CI, 5.0-12.4), and negative LR of 0.2 (95% CI, 0.1-0.4) for diagnosing pneumonia by visualizing lung consolidation with sonographic air bronchograms. In subgroup analysis of 187 patients having lung consolidation exceeding 1 cm, ultrasonography had a sensitivity of 86% (95% CI, 71%-94%), specificity of 97% (95% CI, 93%-99%), positive LR of 28.2 (95% CI, 11.8-67.6) and negative LR of 0.1 (95% CI, 0.1-0.3) for diagnosing pneumonia.
Conclusion Clinicians are able to diagnose pneumonia in children and young adults using point-of-care ultrasonography, with high specificity.