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VOLUME 25 , ISSUE 2 ( February, 2021 ) > List of Articles

Original Article

Diagnosis of Traumatic Pneumothorax: A Comparison between Lung Ultrasound and Supine Chest Radiographs

Rohit Bhoil, Ranesh Kumar, Jaswinder Kaur, Pardeep K Attri, Rohini Thakur

Citation Information : Bhoil R, Kumar R, Kaur J, Attri PK, Thakur R. Diagnosis of Traumatic Pneumothorax: A Comparison between Lung Ultrasound and Supine Chest Radiographs. Indian J Crit Care Med 2021; 25 (2):176-180.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10071-23729

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 01-12-2020

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2021; The Author(s).


Background/Objective: Traumatic pneumothorax is an ominous condition necessitating urgent appropriate action. It is typically detected on chest X-rays; however, these may not be able to detect the presence of a subtle pneumothorax, especially in supine position. Lung ultrasound is emerging as a promising modality for detecting pneumothorax in trauma patients. The aim of our study was to compare ultrasound with supine chest radiography for the detection of pneumothorax in trauma patients. Materials and Methods: This was a prospective, single-blinded study carried out on 212 adult thoracoabdominal trauma patients who underwent ultrasound FAST and supine (AP) chest radiography. During the FAST sonography, ultrasound thorax was done to rule out pneumothorax. Only those cases were considered (118) in which the presence or absence of pneumothorax could be confirmed on CT done subsequently or where pneumothorax was confirmed by air escape on chest tube placement, wherever indicated, and the results were compared with sonographic and chest X-ray findings. Observation/Results: There were 48 true positives on CT/chest tube insertion. Among these, ultrasound was able to correctly detect pneumothorax in 43 patients, while supine chest X-rays correctly identified 33 cases. Sensitivity of ultrasound was 89.6 vs. 68.8% of supine chest radiography. Lung ultrasound also had a higher negative predictive value as compared to supine chest X-rays. Conclusions: Lung ultrasound is more sensitive in detecting traumatic pneumothorax than supine chest X-rays, in addition to having numerous other inherent advantages over chest radiography. It should be incorporated in the emergency assessment of thoracic trauma patients to rule out pneumothorax. Clinical significance: Lung sonography is more sensitive in detecting traumatic pneumothorax than supine chest X-rays. No added equipment is required, and the procedure can be carried out at the time of doing ultrasound FAST, thus saving precious time in trauma patients.

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