BACKGROUND

Chest radiographs (CXRs) are frequently used in the diagnosis of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). We sought to construct a predictive model for radiographic CAP based on clinical features to decrease CXR use.

METHODS

We performed a single-center prospective study of patients 3 months to 18 years of age with signs of lower respiratory infection who received a CXR for suspicion of CAP. We used penalized multivariable logistic regression to develop a full model and bootstrapped backward selection models to develop a parsimonious reduced model. We evaluated model performance at different thresholds of predicted risk.

RESULTS

Radiographic CAP was identified in 253 (22.2%) of 1142 patients. In multivariable analysis, increasing age, prolonged fever duration, tachypnea, and focal decreased breath sounds were positively associated with CAP. Rhinorrhea and wheezing were negatively associated with CAP. The bootstrapped reduced model retained 3 variables: age, fever duration, and decreased breath sounds. The area under the receiver operating characteristic for the reduced model was 0.80 (95% confidence interval: 0.77–0.84). Of 229 children with a predicted risk of <4%, 13 (5.7%) had radiographic CAP (sensitivity of 94.9% at a 4% risk threshold). Conversely, of 229 children with a predicted risk of >39%, 140 (61.1%) had CAP (specificity of 90% at a 39% risk threshold).

CONCLUSIONS

A predictive model including age, fever duration, and decreased breath sounds has excellent discrimination for radiographic CAP. After external validation, this model may facilitate decisions around CXR or antibiotic use in CAP.

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