X-rays can tell which swine flu patients need greater care
Jerusalem: In a finding that could help
doctors better identify high-risk H1N1 patients, a new study
has claimed that chest X-rays can tell which swine flu
patients are at greater risk.
Researchers at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in
Israel, have found that X-rays can play an important role in
the diagnosis and treatment of swine flu as it can predict
which patients are likely to become sicker.
"Working in the emergency room is very stressful and
physicians need information fast. Our study provides
significant findings that will help clinicians triage patients
presenting with clinically suspected H1N1 influenza," said
lead author Galit Aviram.
In the study, published in Radiology journal, the team
analysed the chest X-rays of 97 consecutive patients with
flu-like symptoms and laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of H1N1,
admitted to the emergency department of Tel Aviv Sourasky
Medical Center between May and September 2009.
"To our knowledge, this is the largest series describing
the presentation of chest X-ray findings in patients diagnosed
with H1N1 influenza," Dr Aviram said.
The chest x-rays revealed abnormal findings for 39 of
the patients, five (12.8 per cent) of whom experienced adverse
outcomes, including death or the need for mechanical
For the other 58 patients, chest X-ray findings were
normal, although two (3.4 per cent) of the patients
experienced adverse outcomes. The mean age of patients in the
study, which included 53 men and 44 women, was 40.4 years.
"Abnormal findings in the periphery of both lungs and in
multiple zones of the lungs were associated with poor clinical
outcomes," Aviram said.
"Although a normal chest X-ray did not exclude the
possibility of an adverse outcome," the author said, adding
the study`s findings can help physicians better identify
high-risk H1N1 patients who require close monitoring".
The team said, "In H1N1, as in various types of
community-acquired pneumonia, initial chest x-rays may not
show abnormalities that develop later in the course of the
disease and further X-rays should be performed according to
the patient`s clinical course".