Chest pain is a common presenting complaint to paediatrics, paediatric cardiology, and paediatric emergency departments. In this study, we prospectively evaluated clinical characteristics and causes of chest pain in children referred to our paediatric cardiology unit.
A total of 380 children were included. Associated symptoms and past and family histories were evaluated. All patients underwent physical examination. The following studies were performed: complete blood count in all patients; fasting lipid profiles in overweight and obese children and children with a family history of premature cardiovascular disease; and electrocardiogram, chest X-ray, and echocardiogram in all patients. If necessary, 24-hour electrocardiogram monitoring or exercise stress tests were performed. Patients with a history of positive psychological findings were evaluated by a child psychiatrist.
The most common causes of chest pain were musculoskeletal disorders (37.1%), idiopathic chest pain (29.2%), and miscellaneous disorders, for example precordial catch syndrome (15%), respectively. Only 1 of 380 (0.3%) patients had chest pain due to a cardiac disorder. Electrocardiograms were abnormal in 4 of 380 (1.1%) patients. A total of 9 of 380 patients (2.3%) had dyslipidaemia.
Although a paediatric cardiology referral may provide reassurance to the primary care and emergency department physicians, our results show that cardiac aetiologies for paediatric chest pain are very rare. We think that many patients in our study were adequately evaluated only by careful history, and physical examination. Therefore, we suggest that it may not be necessary to use echocardiogram in the routine evaluation of children with chest pain.