Accuracy of ultrasonography performed by critical care physicians for the diagnosis of DVT

Pierre D Kory, Crescens M Pellecchia, Ariel L Shiloh, Paul H Mayo, Christopher DiBello, Seth Koenig
Chest 2011, 139 (3): 538-542

BACKGROUND: DVT is common among critically ill patients. A rapid and accurate diagnosis is essential for patient care. We assessed the accuracy and timeliness of intensivist-performed compression ultrasonography studies (IP-CUS) for proximal lower extremity DVT (PLEDVT) by comparing results with the formal vascular study (FVS) performed by ultrasonography technicians and interpreted by radiologists.

METHODS: We conducted a multicenter, retrospective review of IP-CUS examinations performed in an ICU by pulmonary and critical care fellows and attending physicians. Patients suspected of having DVT underwent IP-CUS, using a standard two-dimensional compression ultrasonography protocol for the diagnosis of PLEDVT. The IP-CUS data were collected prospectively as part of a quality-improvement initiative. The IP-CUS interpretation was recorded and timed at the end of the examination on a standardized report form. An FVS was then ordered, and the FVS result was used as the criterion standard for calculating sensitivity and specificity. Time delays between the IP-CUS and FVS were recorded.

RESULTS: A total of 128 IP-CUS were compared with an FVS. Eighty-one percent of the IP-CUS were performed by fellows with <2 years of clinical ultrasonography experience. Prevalence of DVT was 20%. IP-CUS studies yielded a sensitivity of 86% and a specificity of 96% with a diagnostic accuracy of 95%. Median time delay between the ordering of FVS and the FVS result was 13.8 h.

CONCLUSIONS: Rapid and accurate diagnosis of proximal lower extremity DVT can be achieved by intensivists performing compression ultrasonography at the bedside.

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