BACKGROUND: Bronchiolitis is the most common reason for hospitalization of children worldwide. Many scoring systems have been developed to quantify respiratory distress and predict outcome, but none of them have been validated. We hypothesized that the ultrasound evaluation of the diaphragm could quantify respiratory distress and therefore we correlated the ultrasound diaphragm parameters with outcome.
METHODS: Prospective study of infants with bronchiolitis (1-12 months) evaluated in a pediatric emergency department. Ultrasonography examinations of the diaphragm was performed (diaphragm excursion [DE], inspiratory excursion [IS], inspiratory/expiratory relationship [I/E], and thickness at end-expiration [TEE] and at end-inspiration [TEI]; thickening fraction [TF]).
RESULTS: We evaluated 61 infants, 50.8 % males. Mean TF was 47% (IQR 28.6-64.7), mean I/E 0.47 (± 0.15), mean DE 10.39 ± 4 mm. There was a linear correlation between TF and oxygen saturation at first evaluation (P = 0.006, r = 0.392). All children with lower values of TF required HFNC and one of them required CPAP. A higher IS was associated with the future need of respiratory support during admission (P = 0.007). IS correlated with the hours of oxygen delivery needed (P = 0.032, r = 0.422). TEI (t = 3.701, P = 0.002) was found to be main predictor of hours of oxygen delivery needed.
CONCLUSION: This study described ultrasound diaphragmatic values of previously healthy infants with bronchiolitis. DE, IS, and TEI correlated with outcome. If confirmed in larger studies, bedside ultrasound semiology of the diaphragm can be a new objective tool for the evaluation and outcome prediction of infants with bronchiolitis.