A robot-assisted ultrasound system was able to remotely assess cardiopulmonary features in patients with COVID-19, according to study results published in CHEST.

Distribution characteristics as well as morphology of the lung, left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), ventricular area ratio, pericardial effusions, and complications were recorded via a 5G-based robot-assisted remote ultrasound system in patients with COVID-19 in isolation wards. Results were compared between patient groups divided into nonsevere or severe cases.

Of the 23 patients with COVID-19, 12 were considered nonsevere (mean age, 56.6 years), while 11 were considered severe (mean age, 70.6 years). When remote ultrasound was performed, patients with severe cases of COVID-19 had significantly more diseased regions and higher lung ultrasound scores than patients with nonsevere cases. Each examination took between 10 and 20 minutes and there was no noticeable delay in scanning.

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In addition, the severe group had significantly more pericardial effusions compared to the non-severe group (36.4% vs 0%, respectively; P <.005). One nonsevere case was complicated by pleural effusions compared with 3 cases of severe COVID-19. All 23 patients had normal ventricular area ratio of the heart and LVEF measurements. None of the 23 patients experienced complications from the remote monitoring setup. 

The researchers noted that there were statistically significant differences in age, oxygen saturation, eosinophils, lymphocytes, cardiac markers, C-reactive protein, and cytokines between the 2 groups.

“5G-based robot-assisted remote ultrasound system is feasible, and effectively obtains ultrasound characteristics for cardiopulmonary assessment of COVID-19 patients,” the study authors wrote. “By following established protocols and considering medical history, clinical manifestations, and laboratory markers, it might help to evaluate the severity of COVID-19 remotely.”


Ye R, Zhou X, Shao F, et al. Feasibility of a 5G-based robot-assisted remote ultrasound system for cardiopulmonary assessment of COVID-19 patients. CHEST. Published online July 9, 2020. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2020.06.068

This article originally appeared on Pulmonology Advisor