JOURNAL ARTICLE
MULTICENTER STUDY
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Effect of bedside ultrasound on management of pediatric soft-tissue infection.

BACKGROUND: Superficial soft-tissue infections (SSTI) are frequently managed in the emergency department (ED). Soft-tissue bedside ultrasound (BUS) for SSTI has not been specifically studied in the pediatric ED setting.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of a soft-tissue BUS evaluation on the clinical diagnosis and management of pediatric superficial soft-tissue infection.

METHODS: We conducted a prospective observational study in two urban academic pediatric EDs. Eligible patients were aged < 18 years presenting with suspected SSTI. Before BUS, treating physicians were asked to assess the likelihood of subcutaneous fluid collection and whether further treatment would require medical management or invasive management. A trained emergency physician then performed a BUS of the lesion(s). A post-test questionnaire assessed whether the physician changed the initial management plan based on the results of the BUS.

RESULTS: BUS changed management in 11/50 cases. After initial clinical assessment, 20 patients were designated to receive invasive management, whereas the remaining 30 patients were designated to receive medical management. Management changed in 6/20 in the invasive group. In the medical group, 5/30 patients changed management. BUS had a sensitivity of 90% (95% confidence interval [CI] 77-100%) and specificity of 83% (05% CI 70-97%), whereas clinical suspicion had a sensitivity of 75% (95% CI 56-94%) and specificity of 80% (95% CI 66-94%) in detecting fluid collections requiring drainage.

CONCLUSIONS: BUS evaluation of pediatric SSTI may be a useful clinical adjunct for the emergency physician. It changed management in 22% of cases by detecting subclinical abscesses or avoiding unnecessary invasive procedures.

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