Use of Pulmonary Computed Tomography for Evaluating Suspected Stroke-Associated Pneumonia

J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2021 Apr 16;30(6):105757. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2021.105757. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVES: Accurate and timely diagnosis of pneumonia complicating stroke remains challenging and the diagnostic accuracy of chest X-ray (CXR) in the setting of stroke-associated pneumonia (SAP) is uncertain. The overall objective of this study was to evaluate the use of pulmonary computed tomography (CT) in diagnosis of suspected SAP.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Patients with acute ischemic stroke (IS) or intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) were recruited within 24h of clinically suspected SAP and underwent non-contrast pulmonary CT within 48h of antibiotic initiation. CXR and pulmonary CT were reported by two radiologists. Pulmonary CT was used as the reference standard for final diagnosis of SAP. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV), and diagnostic odds ratio (OR) for CXR were calculated.

RESULTS: 40 patients (36 IS, 4 ICH) with a median age of 78y (range 44y-90y) and a median National Institute of Health Stroke Scale score of 13 (range 3-31) were included. All patients had at least one CXR and 35/40 patients (88%) underwent pulmonary CT. Changes consistent with pneumonia were present in 15/40 CXRs (38%) and 12/35 pulmonary CTs (34%). 9/35 pulmonary CTs (26%) were reported normal. CXR had a sensitivity of 58.3%, specificity of 73.9%, PPV of 53.8 %, NPV of 77.2 %, diagnostic OR of 3.7 (95% CI 0.7 - 22) and an accuracy of 68.5% (95% CI 50.7% -83.1%).

DISCUSSION: CXR has limited diagnostic accuracy in SAP. The majority of patients started on antibiotics had no evidence of pneumonia on pulmonary CT with potential implications for antibiotic stewardship.

CONCLUSIONS: Pulmonary CT could be applied as a reference standard for evaluation of clinical and biomarker diagnostic SAP algorithms in multi-center studies.

PMID:33873077 | DOI:10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2021.105757