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Paediatr Child Health. 2011 Aug;16(7):425-9.

Paediatric complicated pneumonia: Diagnosis and management of empyema.

[Article in English, French]


Pneumonia can be complicated by an empyema, progressing from an exudative effusion, to a fibrinopurulent stage with loculations, and then organized with a thick fibrinous peel. The predominant causative organisms are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphyloccocus aureus (including methicillin-resistant S aureus) and Streptococcus pyogenes. Recently, an increased incidence of paediatric complicated pneumonia has been reported. For diagnostic imaging, a chest radiograph followed by a chest ultrasound is preferred. Computed tomography chest scans, with associated radiation, should not be routinely used. Antibiotic coverage should treat the most common causative organisms. Additional invasive or surgical management is recommended to reduce the duration of illness in cases not promptly responding to antibiotics or with significant respiratory compromise. Choice of management should be guided by best evidence and local expertise. Video-assisted thorascopic surgery or insertion of a small-bore percutaneous chest tube with instillation of fibrinolytics are the best current options.


Chest tube; Complicated pneumonia; Empyema; Fibrinolytics; Paediatric


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