BACKGROUND: The value of lung ultrasonography in the diagnosis of respiratory dysfunction and severity stratification in patients with acute pancreatitis (AP) was investigated.
METHODS: Over a 3-month period, 41 patients (median age: 59.1 years; 21 males) presenting with a diagnosis of potential AP were prospectively recruited. Each participant underwent lung ultrasonography, and the number of comet tails present on scans was linked with contemporaneous clinical data. Group comparisons, areas under the curve (AUC) and respective measures of diagnostic accuracy were investigated.
RESULTS: A greater number of comet tails were evident in patients with respiratory dysfunction (P = 0.013), those with severe disease (P = 0.001) and when contemporaneous and maximum in-patient C-reactive protein (CRP) exceeded 150 mg/l (P = 0.018 and P = 0.049, respectively). Receiver-operator characteristic plot area under the curve (AUC) was greater when examining upper lung quadrants, using respiratory dysfunction and AP severity as variables of interest (AUC = 0.803, 95% CI: 0.583-1.000, and AUC = 0.996, 95% CI: 0.983-1.000, respectively). Examining all lung quadrants resulted in greater AUCs for contemporaneous and maximum CRP (AUC = 0.764, 95% CI: 0.555-0.972, and AUC = 0.704, 95% CI: 0.510-0.898).
DISCUSSION: Ultrasonography of non-dependent lung parenchyma can reliably detect evolving respiratory dysfunction in AP. This simple bedside technique shows promise as an adjunct to severity stratification.