Correlation of Bronchoalveolar Lavage with Radiographic Evidence of Pneumonia in Thermally Injured Children

Peter I. Ramzy, Marc G. Jeschke, Steven E. Wolf, Lennard Swischuk, John P. Heggers, David N. Herndon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The diagnosis of pneumonia in the critically ill patient is very difficult because the usual signs and symptoms are unreliable in the intensive care setting. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) is a diagnostic tool with a reported sensitivity of 70%. The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy and specificity of BAL in severely burned pediatric patients. An analysis was performed in which BAL cultures were compared and correlated to chest radiographs. Patient characteristics, such as age, sex, burn size, depth of burn, and the presence of inhalation injury were evaluated. Over a period of 8 months, 58 thermally injured children were identified who underwent 101 BALs. The mean age was 6.5 ± 5 years, mean TBSA was 39 ± 27%, and inhalation injury was diagnosed in 20 patients (35%). Of 101 BALs, 48 were positive, and of the 101 chest radiographs, 20 demonstrated signs of pneumonia. Ten of those were associated with a positive BAL and 10 with a negative BAL. Thus, the positive predictive value of BAL was 21%, whereas the negative predictive value was 81%. Interestingly 80% of patients with tracheobronchitis from inhalation injury demonstrated a positive BAL. We conclude that in pediatric burn patients BAL correlates poorly with radiographic signs of pneumonia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-385
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • General Nursing
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • General Health Professions


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