Aim: We conducted this study to determine whether chest radiography was clinically useful in the follow-up of uncomplicated pneumonia affecting children aged between 6 weeks and 15 years.
Method: We examined the case records of all 78 paediatric admissions for pneumonia to our hospital over one year. Thirteen children were excluded on account of age or other complicating factors.
Results: Of the 65 study cases, the mean age was 3.5 years (range 0.4-13 years). On admission 51 (79%) had cough, 53 (82%) fever, 53 (82%) tachypnoea and 50 (77%) had abnormal chest signs. Elevation of C reactive protein was recorded in 43 (66%) cases and leukocytosis in 42 (65%). All children received initial chest radiographs which showed unilobular/lobar changes in 34 (53%), bilobar changes in 19 (29%) and diffuse abnormalities in 7 (11%). Forty-one patients were followed up both clinically and radiologically, usually (31 cases) between four and six weeks after discharge. Thirty-seven children had no abnormal symptoms or signs and had normal chest radiographs. The remaining four had symptoms and signs, their radiographs showed either slight resolution or no change from the admission films.
Conclusion: In cases of uncomplicated pneumonia, follow-up chest radiography should be deferred until at least four weeks after discharge and is not indicated if symptoms and signs are absent.