Background: Lung ultrasound (LUS) and lung ultrasound score (LUSS) have been successfully used to diagnose neonatal pneumonia, assess the lesion distribution, and quantify the aeration loss. The present study design determines the diagnostic value of LUSS in the semi-quantitative assessment of pneumonia in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) neonates.
Methods: Eleven COVID-19 neonates born to mothers with COVID-19 infection and 11 age- and gender-matched controls were retrospectively studied. LUSS was acquired by assessing the lesions and aeration loss in 12 lung regions per subject.
Results: Most of the COVID-19 newborns presented with mild and atypical symptoms, mainly involving respiratory and digestive systems. In the COVID-19 group, a total of 132 regions of the lung were examined, 83 regions (62.8%) of which were detected abnormalities by LUS. Compared with controls, COVID-19 neonates showed sparse or confluent B-lines (83 regions), disappearing A-lines (83 regions), abnormal pleural lines (29 regions), and subpleural consolidations (2 regions). The LUSS was significantly higher in the COVID-19 group. In total, 49 regions (37%) were normal, 73 regions (55%) scored 1, and 10 regions (8%) scored 2 by LUSS. All the lesions were bilateral, with multiple regions involved. The majority of the lesions were located in the bilateral inferior and posterior regions. LUS detected abnormalities in three COVID-19 neonates with normal radiological performance. The intra-observer and inter-observer reproducibility of LUSS was excellent.
Conclusions: LUS is a noninvasive, convenient, and sensitive method to assess neonatal COVID-19 pneumonia, and can be used as an alternative to the use of diagnostic radiography. LUSS provides valuable semi-quantitative information on the lesion distribution and severity.