Febrile infants without respiratory symptoms or sick contacts: are chest radiographs or RSV/influenza testing indicated?

Ali Ozcan
Evelyn Laskowski, Beaumont Health
Shashi Sahai, Beaumont Health
Kelly Levasseur


BACKGROUND: Serious bacterial infection rates in febrile infants < 60 days are about 8-11%. Less than 1% of febrile infants with no respiratory symptoms will have pneumonia however, chest radiography (CXR) rates remain between 30 and 60%. Rapid Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and influenza (flu) testing is common, however, there is not enough data to determine if febrile infants without any respiratory symptoms should be tested. The goal of this study is to determine the rate of positive CXR and RSV/flu results in febrile infants with no respiratory symptoms and no sick contacts.

METHODS: Well-appearing febrile infants between 7 and 60 days of age who presented to the pediatric emergency department (PED) from September 1st, 2015 through October 30th, 2017 were enrolled. Demographic data, respiratory symptoms, CXR findings and RSV/flu results were collected. SAS statistical software was used for analysis.

RESULTS: 129 infants met enrollment criteria. Of the 129 infants, 58 (45.0%) had no respiratory symptoms and no sick contacts. Of these 58, 36 (62.1%) received a CXR and none of them had any abnormal findings, 48 (82.8%) had RSV/flu testing, no patients tested positive for RSV and only one patient tested positive for flu. Costs of CXR and RSV/flu testing for this cohort was $19,788.

CONCLUSION: The absence of positive CXRs in this patient population reinforces the current recommendations that CXR is not indicated. The low incidence of RSV/flu indicate that routine testing may not be necessary in this population especially outside of the flu season. Reduced testing could decrease overall costs to the healthcare system as well as radiation exposure to this population.