Background. Accurate diagnosis and attribution of the aetiology of pneumonia are important for measuring the burden of disease, implementing appropriate treatment strategies and developing more effective interventions.
Objectives. To produce revised guidelines for the diagnosis of pneumonia in South African (SA) children, encompassing clinical, radiological and aetiological methods.
Methods. An expert group was established to review diagnostic evidence and make recommendations for a revised SA guideline. Published evidence was reviewed and graded using the British Thoracic Society grading system.
Results. Diagnosis of pneumonia should be considered in a child with acute cough, fast breathing or difficulty breathing. Revised World Health Organization guidelines classify such children into: (i) severe pneumonia; (ii) pneumonia (tachypoea or lower chest indrawing); or (iii) no pneumonia. Malnourished or immunocompromised children with lower chest indrawing should be managed as cases of severe pneumonia. Pulse oximetry should be done, with hospital referral for oxygen saturation
Conclusions. Advances in clinical, radiological and aetiological methods have improved the diagnosis of childhood pneumonia.