Lung Ultrasound in Patients with Acute Respiratory Failure Reduces Conventional Imaging and Health Care Provider Exposure to COVID-19

Silvia Mongodi, Anita Orlando, Eric Arisi, Guido Tavazzi, Erminio Santangelo, Luca Caneva, Marco Pozzi, Eleonora Pariani, Giada Bettini, Giuseppe Maggio, Stefano Perlini, Lorenzo Preda, Giorgio Antonio Iotti, Francesco Mojoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lung ultrasound gained a leading position in the last year as an imaging technique for the assessment and management of patients with acute respiratory failure. In coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), its role may be of further importance because it is performed bedside and may limit chest X-ray and the need for transport to radiology for computed tomography (CT) scan. Since February 21, we progressively turned into a coronavirus-dedicated intensive care unit and applied an ultrasound-based approach to avoid traditional imaging and limit contamination as much as possible. We performed a complete daily examination with lung ultrasound score computation and systematic search of complications (pneumothorax, ventilator-associated pneumonia); on-duty physicians were free to perform CT or chest X-ray when deemed indicated. We compared conventional imaging exams performed in the first 4 wk of the COVID-19 epidemic with those in the same time frame in 2019: there were 84 patients in 2020 and 112 in 2019; 64 and 22 (76.2% vs. 19.6%, p < 0.001) had acute respiratory failure, respectively, of which 55 (85.9%) were COVID-19 in 2020. When COVID-19 patients in 2020 were compared with acute respiratory failure patients in 2019, the median number of chest X-rays was 1.0 (1.0–2.0) versus 3.0 (1.0–4.0) (p = 0.0098); 2 patients 2 (3.6%) versus 7 patients (31.8%) had undergone at least one thoracic CT scan (p = 0.001). A self-imposed ultrasound-based approach reduces the number of chest X-rays and thoracic CT scans in COVID-19 patients compared with patients with standard acute respiratory failure, thus reducing the number of health care providers exposed to possible contamination and sparing personal protective equipment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2090-2093
Number of pages4
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2020


  • ARDS
  • COVID-19
  • Lung monitoring
  • Lung ultrasound
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


Dive into the research topics of 'Lung Ultrasound in Patients with Acute Respiratory Failure Reduces Conventional Imaging and Health Care Provider Exposure to COVID-19'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this