National guidance from the United Kingdom and the United States on community-acquired pneumonia in children states that chest radiographs are not recommended routinely in uncomplicated cases. The main reason in the ambulatory setting is that there is no evidence of a substantial impact on clinical outcomes. However clinical practice and adherence to guidance is multifactorial and includes the clinical context (developed vs. developing world), the confidence of the attending physician, the changing incidence of complications (according to the success of immunisation programs), the availability of alternative imaging (and its relationship to perceived risks of radiation) and the reliability of the interpretation of imaging. In practice, chest radiographs are performed frequently for suspected pneumonia in children. Time pressures facing clinicians at the front line, difficulties in distinguishing which children require admission, restricted bed numbers for admissions, imaging-resource limitations, perceptions regarding risk from procedures, novel imaging modalities and the probability of other causes for the child's presentation all need to be factored into a guideline. Other drivers that often weigh in, depending on the setting, include cost-effectiveness and the fear of litigation. Not all guidelines designed for the developed world can therefore be applied to the developing world, and practice guidelines require regular review in the context of new information. In addition, radiologists must improve radiographic diagnosis of pneumonia, reach consensus on the interpretive terminology that clarifies their confidence regarding the presence of pneumonia and act to replace one imaging technique with another whenever there is proof of improved accuracy or reliability.
- Journal Article
- Community-acquired pneumonia