Lung ultrasound, considered a simple method for diagnosing lung disease, can also help predict the clinical progression of severe Covid-19 patients, a new study suggests.The study, published in the journal Annals of Intensive Care, showed that the higher the lung ultrasound score, the greater the risk of admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), intubation and death.
"We found lung ultrasound to be a good predictor of the need for intensive care with endotracheal intubation and the risk of death for Covid-19 patients admitted to the emergency room. It can be a simple, cheap way to estimate the prognosis for patients infected by the virus," said researcher Heraldo Possolo de Souza from the Universidade de Sao Paulo in Brazil.For the study, the researchers applied an ultrasound examination protocol covering 12 lung regions in 180 Covid-19 patients undergoing treatment.The researchers performed lung ultrasound exams on the volunteers and calculated their scores on the day of admission to the ER.The scoring methodology, known as the LUS protocol, entailed examining 12 lung regions in the anterior, lateral, and posterior aspects of the chest wall on both sides.Each region was evaluated by aeration pattern, with scores ranging from zero to three points according to the worst pattern observed. The final score was the sum of points in all 12 regions, ranging from zero to 36.The results showed that patients scoring 14-16 were most likely to require ICU care, and a fatal outcome was most likely for those with scores above 20.The average LUS was 18.7, with a standard deviation of 6.8. Of the 180 patients enrolled, 109 (60 per cent) were discharged alive, 74 (56 per cent) were treated in the ICU, 52 (39 per cent) were intubated and 61 (33 per cent) died.