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A novel imaging technique to measure capillary-refill time: improving diagnostic accuracy for dehydration in young children with gastroenteritis



A novel imaging technique to measure capillary-refill time: improving diagnostic accuracy for dehydration in young children with gastroenteritis



Pediatrics 118(6): 2402-2408



Assessment of dehydration in young children currently depends on clinical judgment, which is relatively inaccurate. By using digital videography, we developed a way to assess capillary-refill time more objectively. Our goal was to determine whether digitally measured capillary-refill time assesses the presence of significant dehydration (> or = 5%) in young children with gastroenteritis more accurately than conventional capillary refill and overall clinical assessment. We prospectively enrolled children with gastroenteritis, 1 month to 5 years of age, who were evaluated in a tertiary-care pediatric emergency department and judged by a triage nurse to be at least mildly dehydrated. Before any treatment, we measured the weight and digitally measured capillary-refill time of these children. Pediatric emergency physicians determined capillary-refill time by using conventional methods and degree of dehydration by overall clinical assessment by using a 7-point Likert scale. Postillness weight gain was used to estimate fluid deficit; beginning 48 hours after assessment, children were reweighed every 24 hours until 2 sequential weights differed by no more than 2%. We compared the accuracy of digitally measured capillary-refill time with conventional capillary refill and overall clinical assessment by determining sensitivities, specificities, likelihood ratios, and area under the receiver operator characteristic curves. A total of 83 patients were enrolled and had complete follow-up; 13 of these patients had significant dehydration (> or = 5% of body weight). The area under the receiver operator characteristic curves for digitally measured capillary-refill time and overall clinical assessment relative to fluid deficit (< 5% vs > or = 5%) were 0.99 and 0.88, respectively. Positive likelihood ratios were 11.7 for digitally measured capillary-refill time, 4.5 for conventional capillary refill, and 4.1 for overall clinical assessment. Results of this prospective cohort study suggest that digitally measured capillary-refill time more accurately predicts significant dehydration (> or = 5%) in young children with gastroenteritis than overall clinical assessment.

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Accession: 012938898

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 17142525

DOI: 10.1542/peds.2006-1108


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