Standard and pocket-size lung ultrasound devices can detect interstitial lung disease in rheumatoid arthritis patients

Chiara Cogliati, Marco Antivalle, Daniela Torzillo, Simone Birocchi, Alba Norsa, Roberto Bianco, Giorgio Costantino, Maria Chiara Ditto, Michele Battellino, Pier Carlo Sarzi Puttini, Nicola Montano
Rheumatology 2014, 53 (8): 1497-503

OBJECTIVES: Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a frequent extra-articular manifestation of RA associated with increased mortality. High-resolution CT (HRCT) is used for diagnosis and follow-up, but its accuracy is counterbalanced by high costs and radiological risk. In the presence of ILD, lung US (LUS) detects vertical artefacts called B-lines. The aims of the present study were to evaluate the accuracy of LUS in the diagnosis of ILD in RA and to validate the use of a pocket-size US device (PS-USD) as a screening tool.

METHODS: LUS was performed with standard equipment by a trained physician through longitudinal scans following anatomical lines: 72 segments were considered (28 anteriorly and 44 posteriorly) and B-lines were counted in each segment. A B-lines score >10 identified a positive examination (presence of ILD). A second LUS session for positive/negative judgment was performed by a short-trained physician using a PS-USD.

RESULTS: Thirty-nine patients were studied. The sensitivity and specificity of standard LUS vs HRCT were 92% and 56%, respectively. The B-line score was significantly correlated with HRCT score (r = 0.806). A total of 29 patients were studied with a PS-USD. Sensitivity and specificity for PS-USD vs HRCT were 89% and 50%.

CONCLUSION: The sensitivity of LUS in the detection of ILD supports its use as a screening test for ILD in RA patients, even in the ambulatory setting with a PS-USD. The strong correlation between echographic and HRCT scores indicates LUS is a valid tool for grading and follow-up of ILD.

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