FRIDAY, March 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A lung ultrasound can
quickly reveal if a pregnant woman with a serious condition called
preeclampsia is at risk for respiratory failure, according to a new
Preeclampsia, which causes extremely high blood pressure, can
lead to stroke, bleeding and excess fluid in the lungs.
For this study, researchers gave 20 women with severe
preeclampsia heart and lung ultrasounds before and after they gave
birth. The researchers were looking for pulmonary edema -- excess
fluid in the lungs -- which can lead to respiratory failure.
"Lung ultrasound is fast, safe, noninvasive and easy to use,"
lead author Dr. Marc Leone, vice chairman of the department of
anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Hopital Nord in
Marseille, France, said in a journal news release.
"We found it allowed us to quickly assess whether a woman with
preeclampsia had pulmonary edema and confirm the severity of the
condition," he added.
Lung ultrasound detected pulmonary edema in 25 percent of the
women before delivery, while heart ultrasound detected the
condition in 20 percent of the women, according to the findings,
which were published in the April issue of the journal
The researchers said the use of ultrasound could prevent
pregnant women with pulmonary edema from being given intravenous or
excess fluids, which worsens the condition and can lead to
Treatments for pulmonary edema include oxygen and medication to
lower blood pressure or remove excess fluid from the body. Lung
ultrasound could also be used to assess the effects of treatment
for pulmonary edema, the researchers said.
Worldwide, as many as 60,000 women die of preeclampsia each
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about