Can We Abandon Daily Routine Chest Radiography in Intensive Care Patients?

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Two different schools of thought exist on the utility of daily routine chest radiographs in intensive care unit (ICU) patients: some ICU physicians argue that daily routine chest radiographs are indicated in all patients who have cardiopulmonary problems or are receiving artificial ventilation. Others state that chest radiographs should be made on indication only, for example, following a change in clinical status or change of supportive devices. Most studies on this topic have simply reported the existence of several findings on chest radiographs; some investigators tried to determine whether such findings were new and/or unexpected and whether they caused a therapy change. A restrictive strategy has been compared with a daily routine strategy in only 2 clinical trials: 1 study conducted in a pediatric ICU (pediatric ICUs usually have low mortality rates), and the other a rather small (and probably underpowered) study. The debate about discontinuing daily routine chest radiographs in the ICU is still not settled.

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