Testing & Diagnosis for Pneumonia in Children

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.