In many paediatric cardiosurgical units, a chest X-ray is routinely performed before discharge. We sought to evaluate the clinical impact of such routine radiographs in the management of children after cardiac surgery.
Of 100 consecutive children, a chest X-ray was performed in 71 prior to discharge. Of these, 38 were clinically indicated, while 33 were performed as a routine. Therapeutic changes were instituted on the basis of the X-ray in 4 patients, in all of whom the imaging had been clinically indicated. No therapeutic changes followed those radiographs performed on a routine basis.
Conclusion: Routine chest radiographs can be omitted prior to discharging patients after paediatric heart surgery.