The Particulars: Data are lacking on the accuracy of transthoracic ultrasound in the diagnosis and follow-up of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in the ED. Data Breakdown: For a study, patients with suspected CAP underwent transthoracic ultrasound and chest x-rays in two planes. Transthoracic ultrasound had a sensitivity of 97% and specificity and positive or negative predictive values of 98%. Chest x-ray clarified CAP with a sensitivity of 85%, specificity of 94%, positive predictive value of 85%, and negative predictive value of 90%. However, chest x-ray missed 15% of pleural effusion cases.
Take Home Pearl: Transthoracic ultrasound appears to be a reliable, radiation-free imaging tool that is superior to chest x-ray in identifying CAP in the ED.