RadInfo Logo Home

Pneumonia in the Immunocompetent Child

Pneumonia is an infection of one or both lungs. Pneumonia may come from the community or from a health care environment; both are common in children. Imaging is not required for otherwise healthy children, 3 months of age or older, with pneumonia.

Chest x-ray is usually appropriate as the initial imaging test if community-acquired pneumonia does not respond to treatment, if the child is hospitalized, or if hospital-acquired pneumonia is suspected. Ultrasound (US) chest may also be appropriate.

Pneumonia can be complicated by pleural effusion, a fluid buildup between the lungs and the chest cavity; US is usually appropriate to determine the size and features of fluid buildup and may help guide drainage. Chest x-ray taken lying down may be used to distinguish flows or fluid collection.

Pneumonia can be complicated by suspected bronchopleural fistula, an abnormal communication between the lungs and the chest cavity; CT chest with intravenous (IV) contrast is usually appropriate. CT chest without IV contrast may also be appropriate.

For pneumonia complicated by suspected lung abscess, or an infected mass, CT chest with IV contrast is usually appropriate. US chest and MRI chest without and with contrast may be appropriate.

CT chest without IV contrast is usually appropriate to evaluate for underlying lung disease for children with recurrent nonlocalized pneumonia. For children with recurrent localized pneumonia, CT angiography chest focused on the heart with IV contrast or CT chest with IV contrast is usually appropriate.

For more information, see the Pneumonia page.

— By Celena Romero, PhD, MBA and Diana Bardo, MD. This information originally appeared in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

This page was reviewed on December, 15, 2021

Sponsored By

Please note

RadiologyInfo.org is not a medical facility. Please contact your physician with specific medical questions or for a referral to a radiologist or other physician. To locate a medical imaging or radiation oncology provider in your community, you can search the ACR-accredited facilities database.

This website does not provide cost information. The costs for specific medical imaging tests, treatments and procedures may vary by geographic region. Discuss the fees associated with your prescribed procedure with your doctor, the medical facility staff and/or your insurance provider to get a better understanding of the possible charges you will incur.

Web page review process: This Web page is reviewed regularly by a physician with expertise in the medical area presented and is further reviewed by committees from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR), comprising physicians with expertise in several radiologic areas.

Outside links: For the convenience of our users, RadiologyInfo.org provides links to relevant websites. RadiologyInfo.org, RSNA and ACR are not responsible for the content contained on the web pages found at these links.