Infectious bronchopneumonia is a lower respiratory tract disease with major economic consequences in dairy calves. Thoracic radiography (TR) and thoracic ultrasonography (TUS) are two imaging diagnostic procedures available in bovine medicine for identifying thoracic lesions. However, no study has investigated whether one of these tests is superior to the other or if they provide comparable results for the detection of thoracic lesions in calves. The objective of this study was therefore to estimate and to compare the performances of TUS and TR for the detection of thoracic lesions in dairy calves. A prospective cross-sectional study was performed in a hospital setting. A total of 50 calves (≥7 days old; ≤100 kg; standing; pCO2 ≥ 53 mmHg; any reason of presentation) were enrolled. Every calf underwent TUS and TR. Only calves with thoracic lesions on TUS and/or TR were controlled by thoracic computed tomography (CT) (the gold standard). Calves without lesions were not controlled by CT. A two-stage Bayesian framework was used. The sensitivities (Se) and specificities (Sp) of both tests individually and used in series or parallel were estimated. The Se and Sp of TUS were 0.81 (95 % BCI (Bayesian Credible Interval): 0.65; 0.92) and 0.90 (95 % BCI: 0.81; 0.96), respectively. The Se and Sp of TR were 0.86 (95 % BCI: 0.62; 0.99) and 0.89 (95 % BCI: 0.67; 0.99), respectively. This study did not reveal any differences between both tests. Using TUS and TR in series was more specific than using both tests in parallel. The performances of TUS alone were not different from the performances of both tests in series or in parallel. In conclusion, TUS and TR were equivalent in detecting thoracic lesions in this study. Using TUS alone allowed an accurate detection of thoracic lesions in dairy calves. Further studies enrolling a larger sample (> 400 calves) and allowing adequate power to be achieved would be necessary to confirm these results.
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