The radiological diagnosis of pneumonia in children
© The Author(s) 2014
Received: 30 April 2014
Accepted: 26 August 2014
Published: 14 October 2014
Despite the importance of paediatric pneumonia as a cause of short and long-term morbidity and mortality worldwide, a reliable gold standard for its diagnosis remains elusive. The utility of clinical, microbiological and radiological diagnostic approaches varies widely within and between populations and is heavily dependent on the expertise and resources available in various settings. Here we review the role of radiology in the diagnosis of paediatric pneumonia. Chest radiographs (CXRs) are the most widely employed test, however, they are not indicated in ambulatory settings, cannot distinguish between viral and bacterial infections and have a limited role in the ongoing management of disease. A standardised definition of alveolar pneumonia on a CXR exists for epidemiological studies targeting bacterial pneumonias but it should not be extrapolated to clinical settings. Radiography, computed tomography and to a lesser extent ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging play an important role in complicated pneumonias but there are limitations that preclude their use as routine diagnostic tools. Large population-based studies are needed in different populations to address many of the knowledge gaps in the radiological diagnosis of pneumonia in children, however, the feasibility of such studies is an important barrier.