The aim is to Determine the sensitivity and specificity of point-of-care lung ultrasound in identifying the etiology of acute respiratory failure at admission to the PICU.

Children older than 37 weeks gestational age and less than or equal to 18 years old admitted to the PICU with acute respiratory failure from December 2018 to February 2020. Point-of-care lung ultrasound performed within 14 hours of admission to the PICU by physicians blinded to patient history and clinical course. Two physicians, blinded to all clinical information, independently interpreted the point-of-care lung ultrasound and then established a consensus diagnosis (ultrasound diagnosis). The ultrasound diagnosis was compared with an independent, standardized review of the medical record following hospital discharge (final diagnosis).

Eighty-eight patients were enrolled in the study. Forty-eight patients had a final diagnosis of bronchiolitis/viral pneumonitis (55%), 29 had pneumonia (33%), 10 had status asthmaticus (11%), and one was excluded because of an inability to differentiate the final diagnosis. Point-of-care lung ultrasound correctly identified the etiology of acute respiratory failure in 56% of patients (49/87; 95% CI, 46–66%). It identified bronchiolitis/viral pneumonitis with 44% sensitivity (95% CI, 0.31–0.58) and 74% specificity (95% CI, 0.59–0.85), pneumonia with 76% sensitivity (95% CI, 0.58–0.88) and 67% specificity (95% CI 0.54–0.78), and status asthmaticus with 60% sensitivity (95% CI, 0.31–0.83) and 88% specificity (95% CI, 0.79–0.94). In contrast to literature demonstrating high utility differentiating the cause of acute respiratory failure in adults, blinded point-of-care lung ultrasound demonstrates moderate sensitivity and specificity in identifying the etiology of pediatric acute respiratory failure at admission to the PICU among children with bronchiolitis, pneumonia, and status asthmaticus.