ED chest radiography for children with asthma exacerbation is infrequently associated with change of management

Published:October 06, 2017DOI:



      Acute asthma exacerbations (AAE) account for many Pediatric Emergency Department (PED) visits. Chest radiography (CXR) is often performed in these patients to identify practice-changing findings such as pneumonia (PNA). Limited knowledge exists to balance the cost and radiation dose of CXR with expected yield of clinically meaningful information.


      To determine in children with AAE with CXR, whether patient characteristics are associated with radiographic PNA; and significant practice change by initiation of antibiotic.


      Retrospective chart review of AAE patients with CXR performed in a PED in 2014. We examined univariate associations between patient characteristics and PNA on CXR and administration of antibiotic. Multiple logistic regression models then subsequently examined adjusted associations between patient characteristics and both outcomes.


      Of 288 patients, 43 (15%) had PNA on CXR and 51 (17.8%) received antibiotics. There were no statistically significant univariate associations between either outcome and age, race, gender, insurance status, mode of PED arrival, fever or hypoxia (all p > 0.11). Crackles were associated with antibiotic administration (p = 0.03), but not PNA on CXR (p = 0.07). Only previous antibiotic use within 7 days had both significant univariate associations (p = 0.002) and adjusted associations with both PNA on CXR (aOR 3.6) and antibiotic administration (aOR 3.3).


      CXR infrequently adds valuable information in children with AAE. Patients treated with antibiotic within 7 days are more likely to have PNA identified on CXR and receive antibiotics. A larger study is needed to examine potential significance of hypoxia and crackles.


      AAE (Acute Asthma Exacerbation), PED (Pediatric Emergency Department), CXR (Chest Radiograph), PNA (Pneumonia)


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