To determine the impact of elimination of daily routine
chest radiographs (CXRs) in a mixed
medical–surgical intensive care unit (ICU) on utility of
on demand CXRs, length of stay (LOS) in ICU, readmission rate,
and mortality rate.
Design and setting
Prospective, nonrandomized, controlled study in a 28-bed ICU. Analysis included data of all admitted ICU patients during 5 months before and after elimination of daily routine CXRs.
Before elimination, 2457 daily routine CXRs and 1437 on demand CXRs were obtained from 754 patients. After elimination, 1267 CXRs were obtained from 622 patients. The ratio of CXRs/patient day decreased from 1.1 ± 0.3 to 0.6 ± 0.4 (p < 0.05). Elimination did not result in a change in utility and timing of on demand CXRs. The absolute diagnostic and therapeutic value of on demand CXRs increased with elimination of daily routine CXRs: before intervention, 147 unexpected predefined abnormalities were found (10.2% of all on demand CXRs in 15.9% of all patients), of which 57 (3.9%) in 6.4% of all patients led to a change in therapy. After intervention, 156 unexpected predefined abnormalities were found (11.6%; p < 0.05), of which 61 (4.8%) in 9.5% of all patients (p < 0.05) led to a change in therapy. The LOS in ICU, readmission rate and ICU, and hospital mortality rate were not influenced by the change in strategy.
Elimination of daily routine CXRs reduced the number of CXRs in a mixed medical–surgical ICU, while not affecting readmission rate and ICU and hospital mortality rates.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00134-007-0542-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users
Daily routine; On demand; Chest radiograph; ICU; Critical care
A best evidence topic was constructed according to a structured protocol. The question addressed was whether daily routine (DR) chest radiographs (CXRs) are necessary after pulmonary surgery in adult patients. Of the 66 papers found using a report search, seven presented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. Four of these seven studies specifically addressed post-cardiothoracic adult patients. Three of these seven studies addressed intensive care unit (ICU) patients and included post-cardiothoracic adult patients in well-designed studies. Six of these seven studies compared the DR CXRs strategy to the clinically indicated, on-demand (OD) CXRs strategy. Another study analysed the clinical impact of ceasing to perform the DR, postoperative, post-chest tubes removal CXRs. The authors, journal, date and country of publication, study type, group studied, relevant outcomes and results of these papers are given. We conclude that, on the whole, the seven studies are unanimously in favour of forgoing DR CXRs after lung resection and advocate OD CXRs. One study suggested that hypoxic patients could benefit from a DR CXRs strategy, while other studies failed to identify any subgroup for whom performing DR CXRs was beneficial. Indeed, DR CXRs, commonly taken after thoracic surgery, have poor diagnostic and therapeutic value. Eliminating them for adult patients having undergone thoracic surgery significantly decreases the number of CXRs per patient without increasing mortality rates, length of hospital stays (LOSs), readmission rates and adverse events. Hence, current evidence shows that DR CXRs could be forgone after lung resection because OD CXRs, recommended by clinical monitoring, have a better impact on management and have not been proved to negatively affect patient outcomes. Moreover, an OD CXRs strategy lowers the cost of care. Nevertheless, an OD CXRs strategy requires close clinical monitoring by experienced surgeons and dedicated intensivists. However, given the published studies' low level of evidence, prospective and randomized trials, specifically after thoracic surgery, are necessary in order to confirm these results.
Thoracic surgery; Chest radiography; Outcomes; Cost of care
The clinical value of daily routine chest radiographs (CXRs) in critically ill patients is unknown. We conducted this study to evaluate how frequently unexpected predefined major abnormalities are identified with daily routine CXRs, and how often these findings lead to a change in care for intensive care unit (ICU) patients.
This was a prospective observational study conducted in a 28-bed, mixed medical–surgical ICU of a university hospital.
Over a 5-month period, 2,457 daily routine CXRs were done in 754 consecutive ICU patients. The majority of these CXRs did not reveal any new predefined major finding. In only 5.8% of daily routine CXRs (14.3% of patients) was one or more new and unexpected abnormality encountered, including large atelectases (24 times in 20 patients), large infiltrates (23 in 22), severe pulmonary congestion (29 in 25), severe pleural effusion (13 in 13), pneumothorax/pneumomediastinum (14 in 13), and malposition of the orotracheal tube (32 in 26). Fewer than half of the CXRs with a new and unexpected finding were ultimately clinically relevant; in only 2.2% of all daily routine CXRs (6.4% of patients) did these radiologic abnormalities result in a change to therapy. Subgroup analysis revealed no differences between medical and surgical patients with regard to the incidence of new and unexpected findings on daily routine CXRs and the effect of new and unexpected CXR findings on daily care.
In the ICU, daily routine CXRs seldom reveal unexpected, clinically relevant abnormalities, and they rarely prompt action. We propose that this diagnostic examination be abandoned in ICU patients.
Chest x-rays (CXRs) are the most frequent radiological tests performed in the intensive care unit (ICU). However, the utility of performing daily routine CXRs is unclear.
We searched Medline and Embase (1948 to March 2011) for randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and before-after observational studies comparing a strategy of routine CXRs to a more restrictive approach with CXRs performed to investigate clinical changes among critically ill adults or children. In duplicate, we extracted data on the CXR strategy, study quality and clinical outcomes (ICU and hospital mortality; duration of mechanical ventilation and ICU and hospital stay).
Nine studies (39,358 CXRs; 9,611 patients) were included in the meta-analysis. Three trials (N = 870) of moderate to good quality provided information on the safety of a restrictive routine CXR strategy; only one trial systematically assessed for missed findings. Pooled data from trials showed no evidence of effect of a restrictive approach on ICU mortality (risk ratio [RR] 1.04, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.84 to 1.28, P = 0.72; two trials, N = 776), hospital mortality (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.68 to 1.41, P = 0.91; two trials, N = 259), ICU length of stay (weighted mean difference [WMD] -0.86 days, 95% CI -2.38 to 0.66 days, P = 0.27; three trials, N = 870), hospital length of stay (WMD -2.50 days, 95% CI -6.62 to 1.61 days, P = 0.23; two trials, N = 259), or duration of mechanical ventilation (WMD -0.30 days, 95% CI -1.48 to 0.89 days, P = 0.62; three trials, N = 705). Adding data from six observational studies, one of which systematically screened for missed findings, gave similar results.
This meta-analysis did not detect any harm associated with a restrictive chest radiograph strategy. However, confidence intervals were wide and harm was not rigorously assessed. Therefore, the safety of abandoning routine CXRs in patients admitted to the ICU remains uncertain.
ICU patients frequently undergo chest radiographs (CXRs). The diagnostic and therapeutic efficacy of routine CXRs are now known to be low, but the discussion regarding specific indications for CXRs in critically ill patients and the safety of abandoning routine CXRs is still ongoing. We performed a survey of Dutch intensivists on the current practice of chest radiography in their departments.
Web-based questionnaires, containing questions regarding ICU characteristics, ICU patients, daily CXR strategies, indications for routine CXRs and the practice of radiologic evaluation, were sent to the medical directors of all adult ICUs in the Netherlands. CXR strategies were compared between all academic and non-academic hospitals and between ICUs of different sizes. A comparison was made between the survey results obtained in 2006 and 2013.
Of the 83 ICUs that were contacted, 69 (83%) responded to the survey. Only 7% of responding ICUs were currently performing daily routine CXRs for all patients, and 61% of the responding ICUs were said never to perform CXRs on a routine basis. A daily meeting with a radiologist is an established practice in 72% of the responding ICUs and is judged to be important or even essential by those ICUs. The therapeutic efficacy of routine CXRs was assumed by intensivists to be lower than 10% or to be between 10 and 20%. The efficacy of ‘on-demand’ CXRs was assumed to be between 10 and 60%. There is a consensus between intensivists to perform a routine CXR after endotracheal intubation, chest tube placement or central venous catheterization.
The strategy of daily routine CXRs for critically ill and mechanically ventilated patients has turned from being a common practice in 2006 to a rare current practice. Other routine strategies and an ‘on-demand only’ strategy have become more popular. Intensivists still assume the value of CXRs to be higher than the efficacy that is reported in the literature.
Chest radiography; Imaging; Intensive care
Chest x-rays (CXRs) are the main imaging tool in intensive care units (ICUs). CXRs also are associated with concerns inherent to their use, considering both healthcare organization and patient perspectives. In recent years, several studies have focussed on the feasibility of lowering the number of bedside CXRs performed in the ICU. Such a decrease may result from two independent and complementary processes: a raw reduction of CXRs due to the elimination of unnecessary investigations, and replacement of the CXR by an alternative technique. The goal of this review is to outline emblematic examples corresponding to these two processes. The first part of the review concerns the accumulation of evidence-based data for abandoning daily routine CXRs in mechanically ventilated patients and adopting an on-demand prescription strategy. The second part of the review addresses the use of alternative techniques to CXRs. This part begins with the presentation of ultrasonography or capnography combined with epigastric auscultation for ensuring the correct position of enteral feeding tubes. Ultrasonography is then also presented as an alternative to CXR for diagnosing and monitoring pneumothoraces, as well as a valuable post-procedural technique after central venous catheter insertion. The combination of the emblematic examples presented in this review supports an integrated global approach for decreasing the number of CXRs ordered in the ICU.
Chest radiography (CXR) is frequently performed in Western societies. There is insufficient knowledge of its diagnostic value in terms of changes in patient management decisions in primary care.
To assess the influence of CXR on patient management in general practice.
Design of study
Prospective cohort study.
Seventy-eight GPs and three general hospitals in the Netherlands.
Patients (n = 792) aged ≥18 years referred by their GPs for CXR were included. The main outcome was change in patient management assessed by means of questionnaires filled in by GPs before and after CXR.
Mean age of the patients was 57.3±16.2 years and 53% were male. Clinically relevant abnormalities were found in 24% of the CXRs. Patient management changed in 60% of the patients following CXR. Main changes included: fewer referrals to a medical specialist (from 26 to 12%); reduction in initiation or change in therapy (from 24 to 15%); and more frequent reassurance (from 25 to 46%). However, this reassurance was not perceived as such in a quarter of these patients. A change in patient management occurred significantly more frequently in patients with complaints of cough (67%), those who exhibited abnormalities during physical examination (69%), or those with a suspected diagnosis of pneumonia (68%).
Patient management by the GP changed in 60% of patients following CXR. CXR substantially reduced the number of referrals and initiation or change in therapy, and more patients were reassured by their GP. Thus, CXR is an important diagnostic tool for GPs and seems a cost-effective diagnostic test.
chest radiography; general practice; patient care management
Bedside chest radiography (bCXR) represents a substantial fraction of the volume of medical imaging for inpatient healthcare facilities. However, its image quality is limited compared to posterior-anterior/lateral (PA/LAT) acquisitions taken radiographic rooms. We evaluated utilization of bCXR and other chest imaging modalities before and after placing a radiography room within our thoracic surgical inpatient ward.
Institutional review board approval was obtained for this HIPAA-compliant. We retrospectively identified all patient admissions (3,852) to the thoracic surgical units between April 1, 2007 and December 31, 2010. All chest imaging tests performed for these patients including computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound (US), bedside and PA/LAT radiographs were counted. Our primary outcome measure was chest imaging utilization, defined as the number of chest examinations per admission, pre- and post-establishment of the digital radiography room on January, 10th 2010. Statistical analysis was performed using an independent-samples t-test to evaluate changes in chest imaging utilization.
We observed a 2.61 fold increase in the number of PA/LAT CXR per admission (p<0.01) and a 1.96 fold decrease in the number of bCXR per admission (p<0.01) post radiography room implementation. The number of chest CT, MRI and US per admission did not change significantly.
Establishing a radiography room physically within thoracic surgery units or in close proximity can significantly shift CXR utilization from bedside to PA/LAT acquisitions, which may enable opportunities for improvement in efficiency, quality, and safety in patient care.
Chest imaging; workflow improvement; imaging utilization; radiography room; radiology resource optimization
Syncope has myriad etiologies, ranging from benign to immediately life threatening. This frequently leads to over testing. Chest radiographs (CXR) are among these commonly performed tests despite their uncertain diagnostic yield. The objective is to study the distribution of normal and abnormal chest radiographs in patients presenting with syncope, stratified by those who did or did not have an adverse event at 30 days.
We performed a post-hoc analysis of a prospective cohort of consecutive patients presenting to an urban tertiary care academic medical center with a chief complaint of syncope from 2003–2006. The frequency and findings for each CXR were reviewed, as well as emergency department and hospital discharge diagnoses, and 30-day outcome.
There were 575 total subjects, 39.7% were male, and the mean age was 57.2 (SD 24.6). Of the 575 subjects, 403 (70.1%) had CXRs performed, and 116 (20.2%) had an adverse event after their syncope. Of the 116 people who had an adverse event, 15 (12.9%) had a positive CXR, 81 (69.8%) had a normal CXR, and 20 (17.2%) did not have a CXR as part of the initial evaluation. Among the 459 people who did not have an adverse event, 3 (0.7%) had a positive CXR, 304 (66.2%) had a normal CXR, and 152 (33.1%) did not have a CXR performed. Fifteen of the 18 patients (83.4%) with an abnormal CXR had an adverse event. Eighty-one of the 385 patients (21.0%) with a normal CXR had an adverse event. Among those who had a CXR performed, an abnormal CXR was associated with increased odds of adverse event (OR: 18.77 (95% CI= [5.3–66.4])).
Syncope patients with abnormal CXRs are likely to experience an adverse event, though the majority of CXRs performed in the work up of syncope are normal.
To describe the spectrum of clinical features and management of community acquired pneumonia in the UK.
Prospectively recorded clinical details for all children with possible pneumonia and chest x ray (CXR) changes in 13 hospitals in the North of England between 2001 and 2002.
89% of 711 children presenting to hospital with pneumonia were admitted; 96% received antibiotics, 70% intravenously. 20% had lobar CXR changes, 3% empyema and 4% required intensive care. Respiratory rate (RR), hypoxia and dyspnoea all correlated with each other and prompted appropriate interventions. Admission in children, not infants, was independently associated with RR, oxygen saturation, lobar CXR changes and pyrexia. Neither C‐reactive protein, lobar CXR changes or pyrexia were associated with severity. Children over 1 year old with perihilar CXR changes more often had severe disease (p = 0.001). Initial intravenous antibiotics were associated with lobar CXR changes in infants and children and with dyspnoea, pyrexia and pleural effusion in children. The presence of pleural effusion increased duration of antibiotic treatment (p<0.001). Cefuroxime was the most often used intravenous antibiotic in 61%. Oral antibiotics included a penicillin in 258 (46%), a macrolide in 192 (34%) and a cephalosporin in 117 (21%). Infants stayed significantly longer (p<0.001) as did children with severe disease (p<0.01), effusions (p = 0.005) or lobar CXR changes (p⩽0.001).
There is a high rate of intravenous antibiotic administration in hospital admissions for pneumonia. Despite lobar CXR changes not being independently associated with severe disease, initial lobar CXR changes and clinical assessment in children independently influenced management decisions, including admission and route of antibiotics.
community acquired pneumonia; childhood pneumonia; lobar pneumonia; severity; antibiotics
Chest radiographs (CXRs) are obtained frequently in postoperative cardiac surgery patients. The diagnostic and therapeutic efficacy of routine CXRs is known to be low and the discussion regarding the safety of abandoning these CXRs after cardiac surgery is still ongoing. We investigated the value of routine CXRs directly after minimally invasive cardiac surgery.
We prospectively included all patients who underwent minimally invasive cardiac surgery by port access, ministernotomy or bilateral video-assisted thoracoscopy (VATS) in the year 2012. A direct postoperative CXR was performed on all patients at ICU arrival. All CXR findings were noted, including whether they led to an intervention or not. The results were compared to the postoperative CXR results in patients who underwent conventional cardiac surgery by full median sternotomy over the same period.
A total of 249 consecutive patients were included. Most of these patients underwent valve surgery, rhythm surgery or a combination of both. The diagnostic efficacy for minor findings was highest in the port access and bilateral VATS groups (56% and 63% versus 28% and 45%) (p < 0.005). The diagnostic efficacy for major findings was also higher in these groups (8.9% and 11% versus 4.3% and 3.8%) (p = 0.010). The need for an intervention was most common after minimally invasive surgery by port access, although this difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.056).
The diagnostic efficacy of routine CXRs performed after minimally invasive cardiac surgery by port access or bilateral VATS is higher than the efficacy of CXRs performed after conventional cardiac surgery. A routine CXR after these procedures should still be considered.
Chest radiographs; Cardiac surgery; Intensive care unit
Emergency physicians frequently perform endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation. The impact of instituting early post-intubation interventions on patients boarding in the emergency department (ED) is not well studied. We sought to determine the impact of post-intubation interventions (arterial blood gas sampling, obtaining a chest x-ray (CXR), gastric decompression, early sedation, appropriate initial tidal volume, and quantitative capnography) on outcomes of mortality, ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), ventilator days, and intensive care unit (ICU) length-of-stay (LOS).
This was an observational, retrospective study of patients intubated in the ED at a large tertiary-care teaching hospital and included patients in the ED for greater than two hours post-intubation. We excluded them if they had incomplete data, were designated “do not resuscitate,” were managed primarily by the trauma team, or had surgery within six hours after intubation.
Of 169 patients meeting criteria, 15 died and 10 developed VAP. The mortality odds ratio (OR) in patients receiving CXR was 0.10 (95% CI 0.01 to 0.98), and 0.11 (95% CI 0.03 to 0.46) in patients receiving early sedation. The mortality OR for patients with 3 or fewer interventions was 4.25 (95% CI 1.15 to 15.75) when compared to patients with 5 or more interventions. There was no significant relationship between VAP rate, ventilator days, or ICU LOS and any of the intervention groups.
The performance of a CXR and early sedation as well as performing five or more vs. three or fewer post-intubation interventions in boarding adult ED patients was associated with decreased mortality.
Post cardiac surgery routine chest radiographs (CXRs), ordered without any clinical and laboratory indications, is a standard obligatory practice in many cardiothoracic centers. Routine CXRs incur cost, manpower, and radiation. The objective of this study is to assess early outcome in off-pump coronary artery bypass (OPCAB) patients with postoperative routine versus clinically indicated CXR protocols.
Materials and Methods:
This study is a randomized clinical trial conducted on 231 OPCAB candidates in Afshar Cardiac Center, Yazd, Iran. Patients were categorized into two groups. All 118 patients in group A had routine postoperative CXRs. The 113 patients in group B were selectively exposed to CXR only on clinical indications. All patients were postoperatively followed up for 30 days. Data gathered from both groups were statistically analyzed.
Routine postoperative CXRs obtained in 118 OPCAB group A candidates showed abnormal findings in 20 patients that did not require new intervention. One month follow-up of these patients showed no complications. In 113 OPCAB candidates of group B, 7 on-demand CXRs were obtained on clinical evaluation that required added intervention. In a 1-month follow-up of this group, five patients presented with symptomatic complaints. On re-examination, none needed readmission, intervention, or paraclinical evaluation. No complications were observed due to CXR elimination.
The study suggests that postoperative CXR selected on clinical grounds in place of routine CXR does not change early postoperative outcome of OPCAB procedure.
Chest radiograph; off-pump coronary artery bypass; outcome
We evaluated patients admitted to the intensive care units with the diagnosis of community acquired pneumonia (CAP) regarding initial radiographic findings.
A multicenter retrospective study was held. Chest x ray (CXR) and computerized tomography (CT) findings and also their associations with the need of ventilator support were evaluated.
A total of 388 patients were enrolled. Consolidation was the main finding on CXR (89%) and CT (80%) examinations. Of all, 45% had multi-lobar involvement. Bilateral involvement was found in 40% and 44% on CXR and CT respectively. Abscesses and cavitations were rarely found. The highest correlation between CT and CXR findings was observed for interstitial involvement. More than 80% of patients needed ventilator support. Noninvasive mechanical ventilation (NIV) requirement was seen to be more common in those with multi-lobar involvement on CXR as 2.4-fold and consolidation on CT as 47-fold compared with those who do not have these findings. Invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) need increased 8-fold in patients with multi-lobar involvement on CT.
CXR and CT findings correlate up to a limit in terms of interstitial involvement but not in high percentages in other findings. CAP patients who are admitted to the ICU are severe cases frequently requiring ventilator support. Initial CT and CXR findings may indicate the need for ventilator support, but the assumed ongoing real practice is important and the value of radiologic evaluation beyond clinical findings to predict the mechanical ventilation need is subject for further evaluation with large patient series.
Radiography; Thoracic; Pneumoniae; Imaging; Critical care
A best evidence topic was written according to a structured protocol. The question addressed was whether routine chest radiography is indicated following chest drain removal in patients undergoing cardiothoracic surgery. A total of 356 papers were found using the reported searches; of which, 6 represented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. The authors, date, journal, study type, population, main outcome measures and results are tabulated. Reported measures were mean duration of drains left in situ, timing of drain removal, pathology detected on chest radiographs (CXRs), interventions following imaging and clinical assessment, complications in patients not undergoing routine CXRs and the cost saving of omitting routine CXRs. One large cohort study reported the detection of pathology in 79% of clinically indicated CXRs in comparison to 40% of routine CXRs (P = 0.005). Ninety-five per cent of the non-routine CXR cohort remained asymptomatic and required no intervention. One large observational study reported the detection of new pneumothoraces in 9.3% of patients, 70.3% of which were barely perceptible. Intervention following CXR was required in 0.25% and only one medium-sized pneumothorax would have been potentially missed without CXR. Another large observational study reported intervention following CXR in 1.9% and the presence of relevant clinical signs and symptoms to be a significant predictor of major intervention (P < 0.01). A smaller observational study reported no pathology detected or intervention following CXR in 98% and the cost saving of omitting a single CXR at £10 000 per annum. Another small observational study reported only 7% of CXRs to be clinically indicated with a false-positive rate of 100%, and a false-negative rate of 7% in CXRs not clinically indicated. The smallest study reported no complications in the non-CXR cohort and only one patient undergoing intervention in the routine CXR cohort. We conclude that there is evidence that routine post drain removal CXR provides no diagnostic or therapeutic advantage over clinically indicated CXR or simple clinical assessment. The best evidence studies reported the detection of pathology on routine CXR ranging from 2 to 40% compared with 79% in clinically indicated CXRs (P = 0.005). Whilst the rate of intervention following routine CXR was as high as 4% in the smallest study, clinical signs and symptoms suggestive of pathology were a significant predictor of major re-intervention (P < 0.01).
Chest drain; Chest radiography
Prior studies demonstrate the suitability of natural language processing (NLP) for identifying pneumonia in chest radiograph (CXR) reports, however, few evaluate this approach in intensive care unit (ICU) patients.
From a total of 194,615 ICU reports, we empirically developed a lexicon to categorize pneumonia-relevant terms and uncertainty profiles. We encoded lexicon items into unique queries within an NLP software application and designed an algorithm to assign automated interpretations (‘positive’, ‘possible’, or ‘negative’) based on each report’s query profile. We evaluated algorithm performance in a sample of 2,466 CXR reports interpreted by physician consensus and in two ICU patient subgroups including those admitted for pneumonia and for rheumatologic/endocrine diagnoses.
Most reports were deemed ‘negative’ (51.8%) by physician consensus. Many were ‘possible’ (41.7%); only 6.5% were ‘positive’ for pneumonia. The lexicon included 105 terms and uncertainty profiles that were encoded into 31 NLP queries. Queries identified 534,322 ‘hits’ in the full sample, with 2.7 ± 2.6 ‘hits’ per report. An algorithm, comprised of twenty rules and probability steps, assigned interpretations to reports based on query profiles. In the validation set, the algorithm had 92.7% sensitivity, 91.1% specificity, 93.3% positive predictive value, and 90.3% negative predictive value for differentiating ‘negative’ from ‘positive’/’possible’ reports. In the ICU subgroups, the algorithm also demonstrated good performance, misclassifying few reports (5.8%).
Many CXR reports in ICU patients demonstrate frank uncertainty regarding a pneumonia diagnosis. This electronic tool demonstrates promise for assigning automated interpretations to CXR reports by leveraging both terms and uncertainty profiles.
Pneumonia; Intensive care unit; Natural language processing; Chest imaging; Electronic tool
It has been suggested that changes to the training schemes of junior doctors and the increased pressure on emergency departments to manage their patients within a limited time might increase the number of unnecessary investigations performed on emergency admission patients. This, in turn, may lead to an increased number of investigations with normal results. In this study we try to analyse the role of the chest X-ray (CXR) as a diagnostic tool in patients presenting with acute abdominal pain.
PATIENTS AND METHODS
A retrospective study was performed of the request forms and results of all chest radiography performed on patients admitted on the emergency surgical intake with acute abdominal pain through utilisation of the prospec-tively maintained electronic radiology database. The indications were compared to the guidelines published by the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) which have been adopted as the standard of care.
A total of 334 chest X-rays were identified of which only 23 (7%) had new findings. Four (1%) patients had free gas under the diaphragm. Of the CXRs, 258 (77%) were reported normal whilst 53 (16%) had old changes which were described in their hospital records and previous radiographs. Of the CXRs with new findings, only 20 were clinically significant and, of these, four (1%) were surgically significant.
The majority of CXRs performed on emergency surgical admissions with abdominal pain are unnecessary. By obtaining a clear history, performing a thorough clinical examination and following the RCR guidelines most of the CXRs could be avoided. This would lead to less radiation exposure, reduce delays to diagnosis, and provide significant financial savings.
Chest radiograph; Acute abdomen
The authors designed an automated electronic system that incorporates data from multiple hospital information systems to screen for acute lung injury (ALI) in mechanically ventilated patients. The authors evaluated the accuracy of this system in diagnosing ALI in a cohort of patients with major trauma, but excluding patients with congestive heart failure (CHF).
Single-center validation study. Arterial blood gas (ABG) data and chest radiograph (CXR) reports for a cohort of intensive care unit (ICU) patients with major trauma but excluding patients with CHF were screened prospectively for ALI requiring intubation by an automated electronic system. The system was compared to a reference standard established through consensus of two blinded physician reviewers who independently screened the same population for ALI using all available ABG data and CXR images. The system's performance was evaluated (1) by measuring the sensitivity and overall accuracy, and (2) by measuring concordance with respect to the date of ALI identification (vs. reference standard).
One hundred ninety-nine trauma patients admitted to our level 1 trauma center with an initial injury severity score (ISS) ≥ 16 were evaluated for development of ALI in the first five days in an ICU after trauma.
The system demonstrated 87% sensitivity (95% confidence interval [CI] 82.3–91.7) and 89% specificity (95% CI 84.7–93.4). It identified ALI before or within the 24-hour period during which ALI was identified by the two reviewers in 87% of cases.
An automated electronic system that screens intubated ICU trauma patients, excluding patients with CHF, for ALI based on CXR reports and results of ABGs is sufficiently accurate to identify many early cases of ALI.
Many centres in the UK carry out routine chest X-ray (CXR) and/or electrocardiogram (ECG) when patients attend follow-up clinic after cardiac surgery. Current evidence to support this practice is weak. This study investigated the appropriateness of carrying out these investigations in the absence of clinical indication.
All patients attending routine 6- to 8-week follow-up clinic after cardiac surgery in this hospital were prospectively reviewed over a 6-month period (October 2011–April 2012). Two groups were identified for comparison. Group A comprised patients who had CXR and/or ECG requested routinely, and those in Group B had the investigations only when clinically indicated. A proforma was designed to screen each patient for cardiac and respiratory symptoms, predischarge CXR abnormalities and the presence of atrial fibrillation/flutter postoperatively. Management alterations based on the findings from the investigations were noted. Patients who had thoracic, major aortic, or heart transplant surgery were excluded from the audit.
Three hundred and fifty patients were reviewed: 250 were in Group A and 100 in Group B. No patient had a significant management alteration in the absence of an indication for the tests. There were no differences in outcome between the two groups. In Group A, 111 (45%) patients had CXR and ECG done without indication and no abnormality was detected. In Group B, 52 patients had no indication for either tests and were thus not tested. None of these patients required readmission/intervention following discharge from clinic. Overall, 271 patients had CXR carried out, with only 83 being indicated. This led to a management alteration in 33 patients (12% overall, 40% if indicated). Two hundred and eighty-six patients had ECG carried out with 140 indicated. Management was altered in 122 patients (43% overall, 87% if indicated). The correlation between the clinical indication-based investigation and the resulting change in patient management was found to be significant (Goodman–Kruskal Gamma: 0.99, P = 0.000 for both investigations).
There is a strong correlation between clinical indication for CXR and/or ECG and management alterations. These investigations should be performed during the routine follow-up of adult cardiac surgical patients using a patient-centred approach based on signs and symptoms.
Cardiac surgery; Postoperative clinic; Chest X-ray; Electrocardiogram; NHS funding
To investigate the diagnostic value of different clinical and laboratory findings in pneumonia and to explore the association between the doctor’s degree of suspicion and chest X-ray (CXR) result and to evaluate whether or not CXR should be used routinely in primary care, when available.
A three-year prospective study was conducted between September 2011 and December 2014.
Two primary care settings in Linköping, Sweden.
A total of 103 adult patients with suspected pneumonia in primary care.
Main outcome measures
The physicians recorded results of a standardized medical physical examination, including laboratory results, and rated their suspicion into three degrees. The outcome of the diagnostic variables and the degree of suspicion was compared with the result of CXR.
Radiographic pneumonia was reported in 45% of patients. When the physicians were sure of the diagnosis radiographic pneumonia was found in 88% of cases (p < 0.001), when quite sure the frequency of positive CXR was 45%, and when not sure 28%. Elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) ≥ 50mg/L were associated with the presence of radiographic pneumonia when the diagnosis was suspected (p < 0.001).
This study indicates that CXR can be useful if the physician is not sure of the diagnosis, but when sure one can rely on one’s judgement without ordering CXR.
Key pointsThere are different guidelines but no consensus on how to manage community-acquired pneumonia in primary care.When the physician is sure of the diagnosis the judgement is reliable without chest X-ray and antibiotics can be safely prescribed.Chest X-ray can be useful in the assessment of pneumonia in primary care, when the physician is not sure of the diagnosis.
Chest radiography; clinical assessment; community-acquired pneumonia; C-reactive protein; general practice; primary care; Sweden
To evaluate the diagnostic performance of chest x-ray (CXR) compared to computed tomography (CT) for detection of pulmonary opacities in adult emergency department (ED) patients.
We conducted an observational cross sectional study of adult patients presenting to 12 EDs in the United States from July 1, 2003 through November 30, 2006 who underwent both CXR and chest CT for routine clinical care. CXRs and CT scans performed on the same patient were matched. CXRs and CT scans were interpreted by attending radiologists and classified as containing pulmonary opacities if the final radiologist report noted opacity, infiltrate, consolidation, pneumonia, or bronchopneumonia. Using CT as a criterion standard, the diagnostic test characteristics of CXR to detect pulmonary opacities were calculated.
The study cohort included 3,423 patients. Shortness of breath, chest pain and cough were the most common complaints, with 96.1% of subjects reporting at least one of these symptoms. Pulmonary opacities were visualized on 309 (9.0%) CXRs and 191 (5.6 %) CT scans. CXR test characteristics for detection of pulmonary opacities included: sensitivity 43.5% (95% CI: 36.4%–50.8%); specificity 93.0% (95% CI: 92.1%–93.9%); positive predictive value 26.9% (95% CI: 22.1%–32.2%); and negative predictive value 96.5% (95% CI: 95.8%–97.1%).
In this multicenter cohort of adult ED patients with acute cardiopulmonary symptoms, CXR demonstrated poor sensitivity and positive predictive value for detecting pulmonary opacities. Reliance on CXR to identify pneumonia may lead to significant rates of misdiagnosis.
chest x-ray; computed tomography; pneumonia; emergency department; diagnostic testing
The potential for pulmonary involvement among patients presenting with novel swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) is high. To investigate the utility of chest imaging in this setting, we correlated clinical presentation with chest radiographic and CT findings in patients with proven H1N1 cases. Subjects included all patients presenting with laboratory-confirmed H1N1 between 1 May and 10 September 2009 to one of three urban hospitals. Clinical information was gathered retrospectively, including symptoms, possible risk factors, treatment and hospital survival. Imaging studies were re-read for study purposes, and CXR findings compared with CT scans when available. During the study period, 157 patients presented with subsequently proven H1N1 infection. Hospital admission was necessary for 94 (60%) patients, 16 (10%) were admitted to intensive care and 6 (4%) died. An initial CXR, carried out for 123 (78%) patients, was abnormal in only 40 (33%) cases. Factors associated with increased likelihood for radiographic lung abnormalities were dyspnoea (p<0.001), hypoxaemia (p<0.001) and diabetes mellitus (p = 0.023). Chest CT was performed in 21 patients, and 19 (90%) showed consolidation, ground-glass opacity, nodules or a combination of these findings. 4 of 21 patients had negative CXR and positive CT. Compared with CT, plain CXR was less sensitive in detecting H1N1 pulmonary disease among immunocompromised hosts than in other patients (p = 0.0072). A normal CXR is common among patients presenting to the hospital for H1N1-related symptoms without evidence of respiratory difficulties. The CXR may significantly underestimate lung involvement in the setting of immunosuppression.
The objective of this study was to establish 1) the performance of chest X-ray (CXR) in all suspects of tuberculosis (TB), as well as smear-negative TB suspects and 2) to compare the cost-effectiveness of the routine diagnostic pathway using Ziehl-Neelsen (ZN) sputum microscopy followed by CXR if case of negative sputum result (ZN followed by CXR) with an alternative pathway using CXR as a screening tool (CXR followed by ZN).
From TB suspects attending a chest clinic in Nairobi, Kenya, three sputum specimens were examined for ZN and culture (Lowenstein Jensen). Culture was used as gold standard. From each suspect a CXR was made using a four point scoring system: i: no pathology, ii: pathology not consistent for TB, iii: pathology consistent for TB and iv: pathology highly consistent for TB. The combined score i + ii was labeled as "no TB" and the combined score iii + iv was labeled as "TB". Films were re-read by a reference radiologist. HIV test was performed on those who consented. Laboratory and CXR costs were used to compare for cost-effectiveness.
Of the 1,389 suspects enrolled, for 998 (72%) data on smear, culture and CXR was complete. 714 films were re-read, showing a 89% agreement (kappa value = 0.75 s.e.0.037) for the combined scores "TB" or "no-TB". The sensitivity/specificity of the CXR score "TB" among smear-negative suspects was 80%/67%. Using chest CXR as a screening tool in all suspects, sensitivity/specificity of the score "any pathology" was 92%, respectively 63%. The cost per correctly diagnosed case was for the routine process $8.72, compared to $9.27 using CXR as screening tool. When costs of treatment were included, CXR followed by ZN became more cost-effective.
The diagnostic pathway ZN followed by CXR was more cost-effective as compared to CXR followed by ZN. When cost of treatment was also considered CXR followed by ZN became more cost-effective. The low specificity of chest X-ray remains a subject of concern. Depending whether CXR was performed on all suspects or on smear-negative suspects only, 22%–45% of patients labeled as "TB" had a negative culture. The introduction of a well-defined scoring system, clinical conferences and a system of CXR quality control can contribute to improved diagnostic performance.
Heart size is an important and effective parameter in chest X-ray (CXR) interpretation. Studies indicate that, especially in middle-aged men, increased cardiothoracic ratio (CTR) is associated with ischemic heart disease (IHD) and increased rate of morbidity and mortality. The CXR is the most common imaging examination of the heart.
A good quality posterior-anterior (PA) chest radiograph is an important indicator of the cardiac size. Nowadays, CXR has given its place to more advanced approaches such as two-dimensional echocardiography. However, CXR is still more accessible and feasible for most of the physicians. This study was designed to compare the findings of CXR and echocardiography in determination of the heart size.
Patients and Methods:
This cross-sectional study was carried out from 2006 to 2007. A total of 197 patients entered the study. The cases had been undergone PA CXR and 2-D echocardiography maximum within two days.
Of participants, 24.9% had cardiomegaly according to the findings of CXR and 50.8% based on echocardiography. There was a statistically significant difference between the mean size of Right Ventricular End Diastolic Diameter in the patients with cardiothoracic ratio < 50% and ≥ 50% (P = 0.002) as well as Left Ventricular End Diastolic Diameter (P = 0.023). Also, a statistically significant difference was seen between echocardiography and CXR findings with regard to determination of the heart size (P = 0.003). Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that sensitivity and specificity of CXR findings in the diagnosis of cardiomegaly were 34%, and 84.5%, respectively.
CTR is the most common method of describing the heart size. Increased CTR in CXR is associated with poor prognosis, which is suggestive of importance and necessity of early diagnosis. Although CXR may not have the same diagnostic accuracy as echocardiography, its easy accessibility and high specificity in diagnosis of cardiomegaly is very helpful, which can play an important and a cost-benefit role, particularly in screening the enlarged heart size. Moreover, according to the statistics released by Medical Council of Iran, most of Iranian physicians are general practitioners and a few of them are cardiologist.
Echocardiography; Thoracic Radiography; Enlarged Heart; Cardiomegaly
The term severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) encompasses a heterogeneous group of respiratory illnesses. Grading the severity of SARI is currently reliant on indirect disease severity measures such as respiratory and heart rate, and the need for oxygen or intensive care. With the lungs being the primary organ system involved in SARI, chest radiographs (CXRs) are potentially useful for describing disease severity. Our objective was to develop and validate a SARI CXR severity scoring system.
We completed validation within an active SARI surveillance project, with SARI defined using the World Health Organization case definition of an acute respiratory infection with a history of fever, or measured fever of ≥ 38 °C; and cough; and with onset within the last 10 days; and requiring hospital admission. We randomly selected 250 SARI cases. Admission CXR findings were categorized as: 1 = normal; 2 = patchy atelectasis and/or hyperinflation and/or bronchial wall thickening; 3 = focal consolidation; 4 = multifocal consolidation; and 5 = diffuse alveolar changes.
Initially, four radiologists scored CXRs independently. Subsequently, a pediatrician, physician, two residents, two medical students, and a research nurse independently scored CXR reports. Inter-observer reliability was determined using a weighted Kappa (κ) for comparisons between radiologists; radiologists and clinicians; and clinicians. Agreement was defined as moderate (κ > 0.4–0.6), good (κ > 0.6–0.8) and very good (κ > 0.8–1.0).
Agreement between the two pediatric radiologists was very good (κ = 0.83, 95 % CI 0.65–1.00) and between the two adult radiologists was good (κ = 0.75, 95 % CI 0.57–0. 93).
Agreement of the clinicians with the radiologists was moderate-to-good (pediatrician:κ = 0.65; pediatric resident:κ = 0.69; physician:κ = 0.68; resident:κ = 0.67; research nurse:κ = 0.49, medical students: κ = 0.53 and κ = 0.56).
Agreement between clinicians was good-to-very good (pediatrician vs. physician:κ = 0.85; vs. pediatric resident:κ = 0.81; vs. medicine resident:κ = 0.76; vs. research nurse:κ = 0.75; vs. medical students:κ = 0.63 and 0.66).
Following review of discrepant CXR report scores by clinician pairs, κ values for radiologist-clinician agreement ranged from 0.59 to 0.70 and for clinician-clinician agreement from 0.97 to 0.99.
This five-point CXR scoring tool, suitable for use in poorly- and well-resourced settings and by clinicians of varying experience levels, reliably describes SARI severity. The resulting numerical data enables epidemiological comparisons of SARI severity between different countries and settings.
Influenza; Humans; Radiography; Thoracic; Respiratory tract infections; Validation studies