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Doctors use lung ultrasound to diagnose hidden disorders

Study shows that lung ultrasound is better at early diagnosis of pulmonary embolism and other diseases.

By Amy Wallace
Doctors use lung ultrasound to diagnose hidden disorders
New research suggests that lung ultrasound is better at diagnosing conditions masked by pulmonary embolism than the current Wells score test. Photo by Guzel Studio/Shutterstock

Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Researchers have discovered that ultrasound is a better diagnostic test for early diagnosis of pulmonary embolism and other disorders than current tests.

The study, by Dr. Peiman Nazerian, shows that transthoracic lung ultrasound can detect alternative diagnoses including pneumonia and pleural effusion in lungs more accurately than the commonly used Wells score, as well as detecting early signs of pulmonary embolism.

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The Wells score is the most commonly used test to predict the clinical probability of a person developing a pulmonary embolism, or blood clot that travels to their lungs.

"One of the largest criticisms of the widely used Wells score for estimating likelihood of potentially fatal blood clots in the lung [PE] is the vagary that surrounds the definition of its term, 'alternative diagnosis more likely than PE,'" Jeffrey Kline, vice chair of research in the Department of Emergency Medicine and professor in the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology at Indiana University School of Medicine and study author, said in a press release.

"Most clinicians who believe an alternative diagnosis is more likely than PE cannot name the diagnosis. Nazerian et al, show that lung ultrasound can quickly and non-invasively allow physicians to literally see the identity of 'something else wrong' other than blood clots in the lung. This advantage can help them be more confident in deciding not to order expensive testing that causes large doses of radiation exposure to patients."

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The study was published in Academic Emergency Medicine.

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