Clinical investigations from the RACP

Investigating the patient with recurrent pneumonia

Janet Rimmer



Investigation of recurrent pneumonia should be directed at assessment of the current episode to guide management and a search for the cause of recurring episodes.

Key Points

  • Recurrent pneumonia is pneumonia occurring at least twice in 12 months or three times during a lifetime.
  • It can affect all ages but the underlying causes differ according to age.
  • Investigation involves assessment of the current episode so it can be managed properly and a search for the underlying cause of the pneumonia.
  • Appropriate investigations include a chest x-ray, thoracic CT scan, identification of the causative organism and, as indicated, bronchoscopy and tests of swallowing, immune and cilial functions.
  • Specialist assistance is usually required for the management of recurrent pneumonia.