The inter-rater reliability of pediatric point-of-care lung ultrasound interpretation in children with acute respiratory failure


Department of Medicine, St Luke's Medical Center


Objectives: Use of point-of-care lung ultrasound (POC-LUS) has increased significantly in pediatrics yet it remains under-studied in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). No studies explicitly evaluate the reliability of POC-LUS artifact interpretation among critically ill children with acute respiratory failure (ARF) in the PICU. We thus designed this study to determine the inter-rater reliability of POC-LUS interpretation in pediatric ARF among pediatric intensivists trained in POC-LUS and an expert intensivist.

Methods: We compared the interpretation of lung sliding, pleural line characteristics, ultrasound artifacts, and POC-LUS diagnoses among pediatric intensivists and an expert intensivist in a cohort of children admitted to the PICU for ARF. Kappa statistics (k) adjusted for maximum attainable agreement (k/kmax ) were used to quantify chance-correct agreement between the pediatric intensivist and expert physician.

Results: We enrolled 88 patients, evaluating 3 zones per hemithorax (anterior, lateral, and posterior) for lung sliding, pleural line characteristics, ultrasound artifacts, and diagnosis. There was moderate agreement between the PICU intensivist and expert-derived diagnoses with 56% observed agreement (k/kmax = 0.46, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.31-0.65). Agreement in identification of lung sliding (k = 0.19, 95% CI -0.17 to 0.56) and pleural line characteristics (k = 0.24, 95% CI 0.08-0.40) was slight and fair, respectively, while agreement in the interpretation of ultrasound artifacts ranged from moderate to substantial.

Conclusions: Evidence supporting the evaluation of neonatal and adult patients with POC-LUS should not be extrapolated to critically ill pediatric patients. This study adds to the evidence supporting use of POC-LUS in the PICU by demonstrating moderate agreement between PICU intensivist and expert-derived POC-LUS diagnoses.

Document Type


PubMed ID


Link to Full Text