An ultrasound examination of the lungs could help to determine if a pregnant woman with preeclampsia is at risk of respiratory failure, suggests preliminary research from a group of clinical researchers based in Marseilles, France (Zielesk
iewicz L et al. Lung ultrasound predicts interstitial syndrome and hemodynamic profile in patients with severe preeclamps
ia. Anesthesiology. 2014;120: 906). About 60,000 women worldwide die as a result of preeclampsia, which causes severely high blood pressure. Potential complications include stroke, bleeding and pulmonary edema, which can lead to respiratory failure. The French study suggested a lung ultrasound could indicate whether a woman with preeclampsia is suffering from pulmonary edema and ensure she receives the correct treatment. “Lung Ultrasound is fast, safe, noninvasive and easy to use” said Dr M Leone. “We found it allowed us to quickly assess whether a woman with preeclampsia had pulmonary edema and confirm the severity of the condition.”
In the study, the researchers performed both cardiac and lung ultrasounds before and after delivery in 20 women with severe preeclampsia. Five of the 20 women had pulmonary edema prior to delivery according to lung ultrasound, while four had the condition according to the cardiac ultrasound. Thus, the lung ultrasound identified a patient with non-cardiac pulmonary edema, which the cardiac ultrasound did not detect. The test results could help ensure that pregnant women with pulmonary edema not be given intravenous or excess fluids, which worsens the condition and can lead to respiratory failure. Urine output is often measured to determine if a woman needs fluid administration, but the results are wrong about half of the time. “Lung ultrasound enables the medical team to identify which women really need the fluid treatment” noted Dr. Zieleskiewicz, the study’s first author.