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Rev Esp Anestesiol Reanim. 2015 Jun-Jul;62(6):305-12. doi: 10.1016/j.redar.2014.06.005. Epub 2014 Aug 20.

Comparison between transthoracic lung ultrasound and a clinical method in confirming the position of double-lumen tube in thoracic anaesthesia. A pilot study.

[Article in English, Spanish]

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Servicio de Anestesiología y Reanimación, Hospital Universitario de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, España.
Servicio de Anestesiología y Reanimación, Hospital Universitario de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, España. Electronic address:
Departamento de Estadística, Investigación Operativa y Computación, Universidad de La Laguna, San Cristóbal de La Laguna, España.



To compare the ability of lung ultrasound and a clinical method in the confirmation of a selective bronchial intubation by left double-lumen tube in elective thoracic surgery.


A prospective and blind, observational study was conducted in the setting of a university hospital operating room assigned for thoracic surgery. A single group of 105 consecutive patients from a total of 130, were included. After blind intubation, the position of the tube was confirmed by clinical and ultrasound assessment. Finally, the fiberoptic bronchoscopy confirmation as a reference standard was used to confirm the position of the tube. Under manual ventilation, by sequentially clamping the tracheal and bronchial limbs of the tube, clinical confirmation was made by auscultation, capnography, visualizing the chest wall expansion, and perceiving the lung compliance in the reservoir bag. Ultrasound confirmation was obtained by visualizing lung sliding, diaphragmatic movements, and the appearance of lung pulse sign.


The sensitivity of the clinical method was 84.5%, with a specificity of 41.1%. The positive and negative likelihood ratio was 1.44 and 0.38, respectively. The sensitivity of the ultrasound method was 98.6%, specificity was 52.9%, with a positive likelihood ratio of 2.10 and a negative likelihood ratio of 0.03. Comparisons between the diagnostic performance of the 2 methods were calculated with McNemar's test. There was a significant difference in sensitivity between the ultrasound method and the clinical method (P=.002). Nevertheless, there was no statistically significant difference in specificity between both methods (P=.34). A p value<.01 was considered statistically significant.


Lung ultrasound was superior to the clinical method in confirming the adequate position of the left double-lumen tube. On the other hand, in confirming the misplacement of the tube, differences between both methods could not be ensured.


Anestesia torácica; Auscultación; Auscultation; Ecografía pulmonar; Intubación selectiva; Left double-lumen tube; Lung ultrasound; One-lung ventilation; Selective bronchial intubation; Thoracic anaesthesia; Tubo de doble luz izquierdo; Ventilación unipulmonar

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