Testing & Diagnosis for Pneumonia in Children

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How is pneumonia diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually made based on the season and the extent of your child’s illness. Your child’s physician may diagnose simply on a thorough history and physical examination, but may also include any of following tests to confirm the diagnosis:

  • chest x ray- a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs onto film.

  • blood tests- blood count for evidence of infection; arterial blood gas to analyze the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood.

  • sputum culture- a diagnostic test performed on the material that is coughed up from the lungs and into the mouth. A sputum culture is often performed to determine if an infection is present.

  • pulse oximetry- an oximeter is a small machine that measures the amount of oxygen in the blood. To obtain this measurement, a small sensor (like a Band-Aid) is taped onto your child’s finger or toe. When the machine is on, a small red light can be seen in the sensor. The sensor is painless and the red light does not get hot.

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