A retrospective review was carried out of the radiographic features of 1016 adults admitted to hospital with acute asthma over a 4-year time period. The radiographic features were classified into five groups: (I) normal, 536 patients (52.9%); (II) features compatible with obstructive lung disease, 323 patients (31.8%); (III) complications of asthma including infection, segmental or greater atelectasis, one case of pneumomediastinum and one case of pneumothorax, 83 patients (8.2%); (IV) unimportant incidental findings, six cases (0.6%); and (V) important incidental findings including tuberulosis, heart failure, and bronchial neoplasm, 68 cases (6.7%). We conclude that in this large series of patients presenting with asthma symptoms severe enough to merit admission there is an incidence of clinically significant radiographic abnormalities of approximately 15%. Admission chest radiography is therefore indicated in adults who are hospitalized with acute asthma.
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