Routine chest radiographs in pediatric intensive care units

Michael W. Quasney*, Denise M. Goodman, Michael Billow, Hsiaoting Chiu, Larry Easterling, Lorry Frankel, David Habib, Mary Heitschmidt, Stephan Kurachek, Frank Moler, Vicki Montgomery, Michele Moss, Sheila Murman, Thomas Rice, Barbara Richman, Samuel Tilden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objectives. To determine whether interventions were performed based on portable routine morning chest x-rays (CXRs) in pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) patients and to identify patient subgroups for whom the routine CXR is most useful. Design. Prospective multiinstitutional study. Setting. PICUs of 15 tertiary care hospitals. Patients. PICU patients who received a routine morning CXR were included in the study. Outcome Measures. Recorded data included: weight, diagnosis, presence of active cardiopulmonary problems, length of stay, and number and type of devices. The number and types of interventions based on the interpretation of the CXR were recorded. Results. Five hundred twelve routine CXRs were evaluated. The majority of the routine chest radiographs were obtained on patients who were admitted for cardiovascular disease (195/512; 38%) or respiratory failure (186/512; 36%), and 465/512 of the routine CXRs (91%) were performed on patients with one or more devices. Two hundred thirty-one of the 512 routine CXRs (45%) resulted in 1 or more interventions. One hundred fifty-five of the 284 routine CXRs (55%) obtained in children ≤10 kg resulted in one or more interventions, compared with 61/152 (40%) and 15/76 (20%) of routine CXRs obtained in children 10 to 40 kg and ≥40 kg, respectively. The frequency of interventions increased from 19% in children with no devices to >50% in children with 2 or more devices. One or more interventions were performed in 27% of routine CXRs when no active cardiopulmonary problems were present, compared with 51% of routine CXRs when active cardiopulmonary problems were present. Diagnosis and length of intensive care unit stay at the time the routine CXR was obtained did not affect the percentage of CXRs that resulted in interventions. Conclusions. Routine CXRs are more likely to result in interventions in the smaller, critically ill child with one or more devices and if active cardiopulmonary problems are present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Intensive care unit
  • Interventions
  • Pediatrics
  • Routine chest radiographs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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