Point-of-care ultrasound proves highly accurate in diagnosing pneumonia in children and young adults, according to [removed]study results published online[/removed] ahead of print in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Researchers found point-of-care ultrasound to be highly specific (97%) for diagnosing pneumonia, with sensitivity as high as 92% with training and experience. The accuracy for diagnosing pneumonia with the stethoscope was lower: specificity ranged from 77% to 83%, and sensitivity at 24%. They also found that ultrasound was able to identify pneumonia too small (less than 1 cm) for a chest x-ray to detect in 12 out of 48 patients with confirmed pneumonia.

Investigators note that diagnosing pneumonia with a stethoscope can be more difficult when a patient is wheezing or has co-existing diseases like asthma or bronchiolitis, conditions that do not impact the performance of ultrasound.

These findings have important public health implications, especially in the developing world, according to researchers.

“The World Health Organization has estimated as many as three-quarters of the world’s population, especially in the developing world, does not have access to any diagnostic imaging, such as chest x-ray, to detect pneumonia,” said senior author James Tsung, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “Many children treated with antibiotics may only have a viral infection—not pneumonia. Portable ultrasound machines can provide a more accurate diagnosis of pneumonia than a stethoscope.”