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Chest X-rays may help diagnose H1N1 patients who are at the greatest risk

Category: Infectious Diseases

Results of a recent study suggest that chest X-rays may help doctors predict which patients infected with the H1N1 virus are at the greatest risk of becoming seriously ill.

In the study, researchers from the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center analyzed the chest X-rays of 97 people who were admitted to the hospital with flu-like symptoms between May and September of 2002 and who were eventually diagnosed with H1N1. Lead researcher Galit Aviram and his colleagues found that the imaging results revealed abnormal findings in 39 of the patients who were being monitored.

After a period of follow-up, the researchers discovered that five (12.8 percent) of those patients experienced adverse outcomes, including death or the need for mechanical ventilation. In contrast, only two (3.4 percent) of the 58 patients with normal X-rays experienced poor clinical outcomes.

"Working in the emergency room is very stressful and physicians need information fast," said Aviram. "Our study provides significant findings that will help clinicians triage patients presenting with clinically suspected H1N1 influenza."

He added that abnormal findings in the periphery of both lungs were associated with the grimmest outcomes.

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