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Pediatrics. 2012 Feb;129(2):e364-9. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-0805. Epub 2012 Jan 9.

Bronchoscopic findings in children with chronic wet cough.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital of Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY, USA.



Protracted bacterial bronchitis is defined as the presence of more than 4 weeks of chronic wet cough that resolves with appropriate antibiotic therapy, in the absence of alternative diagnoses. The diagnosis of protracted bacterial bronchitis is not readily accepted within the pediatric community, however, and data on the incidence of bacterial bronchitis in children are deficient. The objective of this study was to determine the frequency of bacterial bronchitis in children with chronic wet cough and to analyze their bronchoscopic findings.


We performed a retrospective review of charts of children who presented with chronic wet cough, unresponsive to therapy, before referral to the pediatric pulmonary clinic.


A total of 197 charts and bronchoscopy reports were analyzed. Of 109 children who were 0 to 3 years of age, 33 (30.3%) had laryngomalacia and/or tracheomalacia. The bronchoscopy showed purulent bronchitis in 56% (110) cases and nonpurulent bronchitis in 44% (87). The bronchoalveolar lavage bacterial cultures were positive in 46% (91) of the children and showed nontypable Haemophilus influenzae (49%), Streptococcus pneumoniae (20%), Moraxella catarrhalis (17%), Staphylococcus aureus (12%), and Klebsiella pneumoniae in 1 patient. The χ(2) analysis demonstrated that positive bacterial cultures occurred more frequently in children with purulent bronchitis (74, 69.8%) than in children with nonpurulent bronchitis (19, 19.8%) (P < .001).


Children who present with chronic wet cough are often found to have evidence of purulent bronchitis on bronchoscopy. This finding is often indicative of a bacterial lower airway infection in these children.

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