Despite their common use, a substantial percentage of chest x-rays fail to produce positive findings, which researchers say supports the rationale of limiting their use in children.

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Researchers retrospectively reviewed the charts of patients between ages of 2 and 18 years who presented with an acute asthma exacerbation to the emergency department (ED) at an urban tertiary care children’s hospital between August 1, 2014, and March 31, 2016 (n=793).

Clinical data, as well as data regarding patient demographics, provider type, and CXR results were extracted, and pediatric radiologists interpreted the findings. A CXR was considered positive if evidence of pneumonia, pneumothorax, or pneumomediastinum was found.

A non-significant association between patients who reported chest pain and a higher likelihood of having a positive CXR (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 0.7-5.6) was observed. Crackles on physical examination was the only statistically significant predictor of having a positive CXR.