A 44-year-old female asked:
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why do docs order a chest xray for my child when lung sounds do not support a pneumonia diagnosis?

4 doctor answers
Dr. Pavel Conovalciuc
22 years experience Family Medicine
Depends: Sometimes auscultation (listening to patient's lungs) may be misleading especially if the location of pneumonia is deep and the focus is small. The other consideration might be that they want to rule out other possible chest disorders that your child is having. Unfortunately, children may not relay their history as well as adults, so you may want to admit some extra testing to be on a safe side.
Answered on Mar 26, 2013
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Dr. Michael DePietro
34 years experience Pulmonary Critical Care
The physical exam is not very sensitive or very specific in diagnosis of many diseases, the abnormal lung sounds heard in pneumonia can be heard in other diseases and conversely the sounds may not be heard even if there is pneumonia, so often if the patients symptoms sound like pneumonia a chest xray will ne needed regardless and the whole picture (history, exam and tests) used to make a diagnosis
Feb 1, 2012
Dr. Francine Yep
30 years experience Family Medicine
Not 100%: Good question. It's hard when our kids are sick and we're asked to do testing. Normal lung sounds aren't 100% proof there's no pneumonia. [one small study showed that relying on only lung sounds missed up 1/3 to 1/2 of pneumonias.] i hope your child's feeling better soon.
Answered on Dec 9, 2013
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Dr. DAVID AMOS
50 years experience Family Medicine
Lung sound: Lung sound cannot cofirm DX of pneumonia, ches xray can confirm that.
Answered on Jun 10, 2014
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Dr. John Leander Po
17 years experience Infectious Disease
Other reasons: Depending on the history of present illness (i.e. The details of your chief complaint), you doctor might be looking for something beyond just a simple pneumonia; lung sounds can't detect things such as a lung cavity, small lesion, or organ anomaly. Since the sensitivity of specific lung sounds are poor (e.g. Crackles, rales, ronchi, egophony), the x-ray us used as a tool for better diagnoses.
Answered on Sep 18, 2013
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