Abandoning Daily Routine Chest Radiography in the Intensive Care Unit: Meta-Analysis

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1148/radiol.10090946

Our systematic analysis demonstrates that the elimination of daily routine chest radiography did not adversely affect hard outcomes, such as hospital or intensive care unit (ICU) mortality, hospital or ICU length of stay, and ventilator days; therefore, daily routine chest radiography can potentially be eliminated safely in most ICU patients.


To systematically examine whether abandoning daily routine chest radiography would adversely affect outcomes, such as mortality and length of stay (LOS), and identify a subgroup in which daily routine chest radiography might be beneficial.

Materials and Methods

This was a meta-analysis of clinical trials that examined the effect of abandoning daily routine chest radiography in adults in intensive care units (ICUs). Studies were identified through searches of MEDLINE, Cochrane Database, Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, Biological Abstracts, and CINAHL. The results were expressed as odds ratios (ORs) or weighted mean difference (WMD) along with their 95% confidence intervals (CIs).


Eight studies with a total of 7078 patients were identified. A pooled analysis revealed that the elimination of daily routine chest radiography did not affect either hospital or ICU mortality (OR, 1.02;[95% CI: 0.89, 1.17; P = .78 and OR, 0.92; 95% CI: 0.76, 1.11; P = .4, respectively). There was no significant difference in ICU LOS (WMD = 0.19 days; 95% CI: –0.13, 0.51; P = .25), hospital LOS (WMD = –0.29 days; 95% CI: –0.71, 0.13; P = .18), and ventilator days (WMD = 0.33 days; 95% CI: –0.12, 0.78; P = .15) between the on-demand and daily routine groups. Regression analyses failed to identify any subgroup in which performing daily routine chest radiography was beneficial.


Systematic but unselective daily routine chest radiography can likely be eliminated without increasing adverse outcomes in adult patients in ICUs. Further studies are necessary to identify the specific patient population that would benefit from daily routine chest radiographs.

© RSNA, 2010

Supplemental material: http://radiology.rsna.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1148/radiol.10090946/-/DC1


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Article History

Received May 28, 2009; revision requested July 6; revision received October 23; accepted November 5; final version accepted November 16.
Published online: Apr 8 2010
Published in print: May 2010