Diagnostic approach to pneumonia in children

Semin Respir Infect. 1996 Sep;11(3):131-8.


Pneumonia in children may be caused by a variety of agents each requiring a different treatment approach. Lack of a simple and reliable method for establishing an etiologic diagnosis in most cases forces the physician to make therapeutic decisions based on the age of the patient, clinical presentation, radiographic findings, and the knowledge of the likely organisms. When a more specific diagnosis is sought, several noninvasive and invasive techniques are available. Among the first group are sputum examination, cultures of blood, sputum and respiratory tract specimens, rapid antigen detection tests, and serology. Those in the later group, which is usually reserved for critically ill patients or those with underlying immunodeficiency, include pleurocentesis, bronchoalveolar lavage, transbronchial biopsy, and open-lung biopsy. The indications and potential advantages of these tests are discussed in this review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Pneumonia / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia / etiology
  • Pneumonia / physiopathology
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*