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Diffuse comet-tail artifacts at lung ultrasound are due to thickened interlobular septa and extravascular lung water. This condition is typical of the alveolar-interstitial syndrome due to pulmonary edema, diffuse parenchymal lung disease or ARDS. Aim of our study is to assess the potential of bedside lung ultrasound to diagnose the alveolar-interstitial syndrome in patients admitted to our emergency medicine unit. The ultrasonic feature of multiple and diffuse comet-tail artifacts was investigated during 5 months, in 121 consecutive patients admitted to our unit. Each patient was studied bedside in a supine position, by 8 antero-lateral pulmonary intercostal scans. Ultrasonic results were compared with chest radiograph and clinical outcome. Lung ultrasound showed a sensitivity of 84% and a specificity of 98% in diagnosing the radiologic alveolar-interstitial syndrome. Corresponding figures in the identification of a disease involving lung interstitium were 83% and 96%. These preliminary data show that the study of comet-tail artifacts at lung ultrasound is a method reasonably accurate for diagnosing the alveolar-interstitial syndrome at bedside. This conclusion opens the hypothesis of the usefullness of bedside lung ultrasound in the evaluation of dyspnoeic patients in the emergency setting.
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