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Ultrasonography as a tool in predicting the severity of dengue fever in children--a useful aid in a developing country.

BACKGROUND: Dengue fever accounts for significant mortality in developing countries. Dengue fever serology takes a week at least to be reported positive, thus necessitating the need for other markers of diagnosis and prognosis.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of ultrasonography as a tool in diagnosing and predicting the severity of dengue fever in children.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a prospective study conducted in a tertiary pediatric centre from September 2010 to July 2012. Three hundred twenty-four children with confirmed dengue fever were compared with 422 children of suspected dengue fever. Severity of illness was graded as per WHO criteria and sonography findings were correlated to the grade of illness.

RESULTS: Gallbladder wall thickening was seen in 75% of the children with confirmed dengue fever. A significant difference was seen between survivors and non-survivors with respect to pericholecystic fluid collection (P = 0.002), hepatic intraparenchymal fluid (P < 0.001), splenomegaly (P = 0.002), splenic subcapsular fluid (P < 0.001), peripancreatic fluid (P < 0.001), perirenal fluid (P < 0.001) and pericardial fluid (P < 0.001). Other findings included ascites, pleural effusion, hepatomegaly and splenomegaly, which were present irrespective of grade of illness.

CONCLUSIONS: Ultrasonography can be used as a useful tool in developing countries to predict the severity of dengue fever in children.

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