The utility of lung ultrasound in COVID-19: A systematic scoping review

Michael M Trauer, Ashley Matthies, Nick Mani, Cian Brendan McDermott, Robert Jarman


Introduction: Lung ultrasound (LUS) has an established evidence base and has proven useful in previous viral epidemics. An understanding of the utility of LUS in COVID-19 is crucial to determine its most suitable role based on local circumstances.

Method: Online databases, specialist websites and social media platforms were searched to identify studies that explore the utility of LUS in COVID-19. Case reports and recommendations were excluded.

Findings: In total, 33 studies were identified which represent a rapidly expanding evidence base for LUS in COVID-19. The quality of the included studies was relatively low; however, LUS certainly appears to be a highly sensitive and fairly specific test for COVID-19 in all ages and in pregnancy.

Discussion: There may be LUS findings and patterns that are relatively specific to COVID-19; however, specificity may also be influenced by factors such as disease severity, pre-existing lung disease, operator experience, disease prevalence and the reference standard.

Conclusion: LUS is almost certainly more sensitive than chest radiograph for COVID-19 and has several advantages over computed tomography and real-time polymerase chain reaction. High-quality research is needed into various aspects of LUS including: diagnostic accuracy in undifferentiated patients; triage and prognostication; monitoring progression and guiding interventions; the persistence of residual LUS findings; inter-observer agreement and the role of contrast-enhanced LUS.

Keywords: Lung ultrasound, focused ultrasound, point-of-care ultrasound, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2

Ultrasound 0(0) 1–15
© The Author(s) 2020
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DOI: 10.1177/1742271X20950779