Preliminary Diagnosis: Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

I. What imaging technique is first-line for this diagnosis?

  • CT of the chest without contrast

II. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of this technique for diagnosising Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

Advantages
  • Identifies features associated with ARDS, including intense pulmonary (parenchymal) opacification, ground glass opacities, plueral effusions, lobar atelectasis, lung abscesses, occult pneumothorax

Disadvantages
  • Ionizing radiation exposure

  • Relative increased cost compared to plan chest radiography

III. What are the contraindications for the first-line imaging technique?

Relative contraindication during pregnancy

IV. What alternative imaging techniques are available?

Radiographs of the chest (AP and/or PA + lateral)

V. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the alternative techniques for diagnosis of acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Radiographs of the chest (AP and/or PA + lateral)
Advantages
  • Quick

  • Inexpensive

  • May be obtained at bedside

Disadvantages
  • Decreased amount of information relative to chest CT

VI. What are the contraindications for the alternative imaging techniques?

Radiographs of the chest (AP and/or PA + lateral)
  • Consent may be required for pregnant patients at some institutions

  • No absolute contraindications