Abstract

BACKGROUND: Chest CT displays chest pathology better than chest X-ray (CXR). We evaluated the effects on health outcomes of replacing CXR by ultra-low-dose chest-CT (ULDCT) in the diagnostic work-up of patients suspected of non-traumatic pulmonary disease at the emergency department.

METHODS: Pragmatic, multicentre, non-inferiority randomised clinical trial in patients suspected of non-traumatic pulmonary disease at the emergency department. Between 31 January 2017 and 31 May 2018, every month, participating centres were randomly allocated to using ULDCT or CXR. Primary outcome was functional health at 28 days, measured by the Short Form (SF)-12 physical component summary scale score (PCS score), non-inferiority margin was set at 1 point. Secondary outcomes included hospital admission, hospital length of stay (LOS) and patients in follow-up because of incidental findings.

RESULTS: 2418 consecutive patients (ULDCT: 1208 and CXR: 1210) were included. Mean SF-12 PCS score at 28 days was 37.0 for ULDCT and 35.9 for CXR (difference 1.1; 95% lower CI: 0.003). After ULDCT, 638/1208 (52.7%) patients were admitted (median LOS of 4.8 days; IQR 2.1-8.8) compared with 659/1210 (54.5%) patients after CXR (median LOS 4.6 days; IQR 2.1-8.8). More ULDCT patients were in follow-up because of incidental findings: 26 (2.2%) versus 4 (0.3%).

CONCLUSIONS: Short-term functional health was comparable between ULDCT and CXR, as were hospital admissions and LOS, but more incidental findings were found in the ULDCT group. Our trial does not support routine use of ULDCT in the work-up of patients suspected of non-traumatic pulmonary disease at the emergency department.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NTR6163.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberthoraxjnl-2021-218337
JournalThorax
Early online date10 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • emergency medicine
  • imaging/CT MRI etc
  • pneumonia
  • respiratory infection

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