Lung ultrasound accurately detects pneumothorax in a preterm newborn lamb model

Douglas A. Blank, Stuart B. Hooper, Corinna Binder-Heschl, Martin Kluckow, Andrew W Gill, Domenic A. LaRosa, Ishmael M. Inocencio, Alison Moxham, Karyn Rodgers, Valerie A. Zahra, Peter G. Davis, Graeme R. Polglase

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Pneumothorax is a common emergency affecting extremely preterm. In adult studies, lung ultrasound has performed better than chest x-ray in the diagnosis of pneumothorax. The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of lung ultrasound (LUS) examination to detect pneumothorax using a preterm animal model. Methods: This was a prospective, observational study using newborn Border–Leicester lambs at gestational age = 126 days (equivalent to gestational age = 26 weeks in humans) receiving mechanical ventilation from birth to 2 h of life. At the conclusion of the experiment, LUS was performed, the lambs were then euthanised and a post-mortem exam was immediately performed. We used previously published ultrasound techniques to identify pneumothorax. Test characteristics of LUS to detect pneumothorax were calculated, using the post-mortem exam as the ‘gold standard’ test. Results: Nine lambs (18 lungs) were examined. Four lambs had a unilateral pneumothorax, all of which were identified by LUS with no false positives. Conclusions: This was the first study to use post-mortem findings to test the efficacy of LUS to detect pneumothorax in a newborn animal model. Lung ultrasound accurately detected pneumothorax, verified by post-mortem exam, in premature, newborn lambs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-648
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • bubble test
  • lung aeration
  • lung injury
  • post-mortem exam
  • respiratory distress syndrome

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