To determine the incidence of radiographic abnormalities in acute asthma of children and adolescents, and to examine the contribution of the chest x-ray to their care, 515 asthma admissions were reviewed. Of these, 479 had admission chest films, 22.3% of which were abnormal. Significant perihilar infiltrates were the most frequent abnormality seen; atelectasis, especially of the right middle lobe, was the next most frequent. Pneumomediastinum was also a common finding. Both pneumomediastinum and infiltrates were strikingly age-dependent: 15.5% over 10 years old had pneumomediastinum; none under 2 years old had this complication; infiltrates occurred in nearly 25% of younger children but in only 8.3% over 10 years old. Since pulmonary complications substantially alter therapeutic management, a chest x-ray should be part of the initial evaluation of any child hospitalized with acute asthma.

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