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100 Serial lung ultrasonography in Malawian patients with suspected sepsis and haemodynamic compromise: findings change with intravenous fluid treatment and predict hypoxia
  1. Philip Delbridge1,
  2. Richard Wang2,
  3. Jamie Rylance3,
  4. Grace Katha4,
  5. Miriam Phiri3,
  6. Stephen Gordon3,
  7. Carolyn Calfee2,
  8. Laurence Huang2
  1. 1Royal Liverpool University Hospital
  2. 2University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA
  3. 3Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, Blantyre, Malawi
  4. 4Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre, Malawi


Aims/Objectives/Background Studies from sub-Saharan Africa have challenged conventional fluid-liberal strategies for patients with sepsis. Extravascular lung water, associated with increased mortality in sepsis, may be an important factor in these findings. The role of lung ultrasonography in guiding intravenous fluid treatment of sepsis is not yet clear, however sonographic B-lines have been shown to correlate with measures of extravascular lung water.

The aim of this study was to assess, in Malawian patients with clinically suspected sepsis and haemodynamic compromise, how intravenous fluid treatment influences lung ultrasonography findings. In addition, we examined whether these findings predict the onset of hypoxia or are associated with decreased survival.

Methods/Design A prospective observational cohort study was carried out of 70 patients presenting with suspected sepsis to a Malawian hospital. Eight-zone lung ultrasonography was performed at enrolment and again at 3, 6, 24, 48 and 72 hours with a B-line score calculated at each timepoint.

Abstract 100 Table 1

Participant characteristics

Abstract 100 Figure 1

Box plots of cumulative intravenous fluid at each time point during the first 72 hours after enrollment

Abstract 100 Figure 2

Treatment with more IV fluid is associated with an increase in B-lines. A scatter plot of the change in B-line score by the amount of intravenous fluid given between enrollment and 3 hours after, with linear regression line and 95% confidence interval (β = 2.6, 95% CI 1.5 to 3.7, p < 0.001)

Abstract 100 Figure 3

The baseline B-line score predicts the development of hypoxemia during the first 72 hours of hospitalization. A receiver operater characteristic curve illustrating how the sonographic B-line score predicts future hypoxemia

Abstract 100 Figure 4

A higher B-line score may be associated with decreased survival. Kaplan-Meier survival estimates for participants with a baseline sonographic B-line score from 0–5 compared to participants with scores > 5 (estimated hazard ratio 2.1, 95% CI 0.86 to 5.1, p = 0.11)

Results/Conclusions Participants who received more intravenous fluid had more B-lines detected on lung ultrasonography. A mixed effects regression model estimated that there was approximately one additional B-line (1.01, 95% CI 0.59 – 1.43 p < 0.001) for every litre of intravenous fluid treatment. Moreover, in participants who were not hypoxic at presentation, a B-line score of greater than five was 86% sensitive and 74% specific for predicting impending hypoxia during the first 72 hours of admission. Analysis of mortality did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.11), but suggested a higher B-line score may be associated with increased risk of death.

In summary, this study establishes important relationships between intravenous fluid treatment and extravascular lung water as assessed by a novel use of lung ultrasonography in a resource-limited setting.

Funding U.S. National Institutes of Health

U.K. Medical Research Council

U.K. National Institute for Health Research


  1. Wang RJ, Katha G, Phiri M, Delbridge P, Gordon SB, Calfee CS, Huang L, Rylance J. Sonographic B-lines, fluid resuscitation, and hypoxemia in malawian patients with suspected sepsis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2020 Apr. doi: 10.1164/rccm.202003-0640LE.

  • Africa
  • crystalloid solutions
  • extravascular lung water
  • shock
  • ultrasonography

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