A comparison of different diagnostic tests in the bedside evaluation of pleuritic pain in the ED

Giovanni Volpicelli, Luciano Cardinale, Paola Berchialla, Alessandro Mussa, Fabrizio Bar, Mauro F Frascisco
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2012, 30 (2): 317-24

PURPOSES: Bedside lung ultrasound (LUS) is useful in detecting radio-occult pleural-pulmonary lesions. The aim of our study is to compare the value of LUS with other conventional routine diagnostic tools in the emergency department (ED) evaluation of patients with pleuritic pain and silent chest radiography (CXR).

METHODS: Ninety patients consecutively admitted to the ED with pleuritic pain and normal CXR were retrospectively (n = 49) and prospectively (n = 41) studied. All patients were blindly examined by LUS and submitted to clinical examination and blood samples. The ability of blood tests and symptoms to predict any radio-occult pleural-pulmonary condition confirmed by conclusive image techniques and follow-up was evaluated and compared with LUS.

RESULTS: In 57 cases, the final diagnosis was chest wall pain. The other 33 patients were diagnosed with a pleural-pulmonary condition (22 pneumonia, 2 pleuritis, 7 pulmonary embolism, 1 lung cancer, 1 pneumothorax). Lung ultrasound showed a sensitivity of 96.97% (95% confidence interval [CI], 84.68%-99.46%) and a specificity of 96.49% (95% CI, 88.08%-99.03%) in predicting radio-occult pleural-pulmonary lesions and significantly higher area under the curve (AUC) of receiver operating characteristic analysis (AUC, 0.967; 95% CI, 0.929-1.00) than d-dimer (AUC, 0.815; 95% CI, 0.720-0.911) and white blood cell count (AUC, 0.778; 95% CI, 0.678-0.858). None of the other routine tests considered or a combination between them better predicted the final diagnosis.

CONCLUSIONS: Chest radiography and blood tests may be inadequate in the diagnostic process of pleuritic pain. In case of silent CXR, LUS is critical for identifying patients with pleural-pulmonary radio-occult conditions at bedside and cannot be safely replaced by other conventional methods.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"