Reappraisal of lung tap: review of an old method for better etiologic diagnosis of childhood pneumonia

Clin Infect Dis. 2001 Mar 1;32(5):715-26. doi: 10.1086/319213. Epub 2001 Feb 23.


Identification of the etiology of childhood pneumonia is difficult, even in the cases that most likely have bacterial origins. A positive blood culture result is diagnostic but rare (< 10% of cases), and other noninvasive microbiological methods are nonspecific or are at least shadowed by interpretation problems. However, lung tap (or aspiration), a method developed a century ago, warrants reappraisal, especially since the prevalence of pneumococcal resistance to penicillin is increasing. An analysis of 59 studies that were published in 6 languages led us to conclude that (1) bacterial etiology is disclosed in approximately 50% of cases (virological tests were rarely done); (2) lung tap is safer than is generally considered; (3) potential pneumothorax is mostly symptomless and resolves spontaneously without impairing recovery; and (4) in comparison with routine diagnostic tools, lung tap offers so many advantages that it warrants reconsideration at centers where personnel have experience in handling potential pneumothorax.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biopsy, Needle* / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung / virology
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / microbiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology