Lung ultrasound in a Singapore COVID-19 intensive care unit patient and a review of its potential clinical utility in pandemic

 Wee Ming Peh1, Steffi Kang Ting Chan2, Yi Lin Lee3, Pravin Shivaji Gare4, Vui Kian Ho4

Affiliation and address for correspondence
J Ultrason 2020; 20: e154–e158
DOI: 10.15557/JoU.2020.0025
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Background: Point-of-care bedside lung ultrasound is a diagnostic adjunct in the management of respiratory diseases. We describe the clinical progress and lung ultrasound findings of a Singaporean COVID-19 intensive care unit patient who was diagnosed with COVID-19 infection. Methods: The clinical course of one COVID-19 patient managed in the intensive care unit was traced. The patient was diagnosed with COVID-19 virus infection and intubated after developing respiratory failure. Serial point-of-care bedside lung ultrasound was performed by the managing intensivist daily, and correlated with the clinical progress and chest X-ray imaging done for the patient. Results: The patient exhibited lung ultrasound findings consistent with that described for viral pneumonias. This included numerous B-lines and subpleural consolidations with disrupted pleural lines distributed symmetrically, predominantly in bilateral upper BLUE points, and lower BLUE points bilaterally. Coalescing B-lines leading on to the development of bilateral “white lung” were associated with worsening acute respiratory distress syndrome. An increased density or reduction of the B-lines was associated with clinical improvement or deterioration, respectively. Conclusions: Trained clinicians, who are familiar with point-of-care lung ultrasonography, may consider point-ofcare bedside ultrasound as an important adjunct to history and physical examination for the diagnosis and management of COVID-19 when advanced imaging is not available because of logistical reasons or infectious control. This applies in particular to cases where resources are limited, and patient transfers to facilities offering such services may prove hazardous.

COVID-19, respiratory failure, point-of-care lung ultrasound, ARDS, pneumonia