New pneumonia diagnostic model to reduce need for x-rays in kids

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X-rays are generally one of the regular methods to diagnose community acquired pneumonia in children, but that exposes kids to x-rays – something that is not ideal.

In efforts to reduce radiation exposure from x-rays in children and reinforce guideline compliance, researchers from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and colleagues have developed a simple diagnostic model capable of accurately predicting whether patients are at high risk or low risk for community acquired pneumonia, eliminating the need for x-ray confirmation. Their findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.

Dr. Ramgopal and colleagues statistically derived their model based on the clinical history, symptoms and x-ray results of 1,142 patients, aged 3 months to 18 years who were evaluated for suspicion of community acquired pneumonia. They found three key variables with the strongest predictive value for either high risk or low risk of pneumonia – increasing age, fever duration and decreased breath sounds upon exam with a stethoscope.

“Since our model does not rely on lab results, it may allow for broader implementation in the primary care setting,” said senior author Todd Florin, MD, MSCE, Director of Research in Emergency Medicine at Lurie Children’s and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “If validated by other centers, this model could be implemented using an online calculator of risk or through clinical decision support tools that can be embedded in the electronic medical record.”

Research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. The Manne Research Institute is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. It is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Last year, the hospital served more than 220,000 children from 48 states and 49 countries.