Pediatric Acute Lung Injury

A pediatric acute lung injury causes lung inflammation (swelling), which prevents oxygen from circulating in the body.

What is a Pediatric Acute Lung Injury?

Acute (sudden and severe) lung injuries can result from distress to the chest or lungs or an infection. The injury will decrease the amount of oxygen reaching the body’s vital organs. As a result, the patient will suffer respiratory distress and will most likely need a ventilator to help them breathe.

What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Acute Lung Injury?

  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive carbon dioxide in the blood
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Fluid buildup in lungs
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low concentration of oxygen in the blood
  • Rapid breathing

How is a Pediatric Acute Lung Injury diagnosed?

The following are tests that are used to diagnose acute lung injury. Your child’s doctor may use a combination of these tests:

  • History and physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-ray
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan: a noninvasive test that uses X-rays to create cross-sectional pictures of the body
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG): a noninvasive test that records the heart's electrical activity
  • Echocardiogram: a noninvasive test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart
  • Sputum culture: a test of secretions from the lungs

What are the causes of a Pediatric Acute Lung Injury?

Acute (sudden and severe) lung injuries occur due to direct or indirect causes:

  • Direct cause — such as a trauma to the chest that puts the body in shock or breathing in smoke (inhalation)
  • Indirect cause — such as a severe infection or complications from pneumonia

How is a Pediatric Acute Lung Injury treated?

Acute lung injury is a critical condition that requires constant oversight by a team of specially-trained caregivers. The critical care physicians at Children's Health are international leaders in pediatric critical care. They work closely with nurses, respiratory therapists and other team members to make sure that your child gets whatever is needed at a moment's notice.

Standard acute lung injury treatments

The following are customary treatments for acute lung injury. Your child’s doctor may use a combination of these treatment methods:

  • Medications to treat infection, relieve pain, and prevent blood clots
  • Oxygen therapy to increase the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream
  • Mechanical ventilation to help with breathing
  • IV fluids to improve blood flow and provide nutrition

Advanced acute lung injury treatments

The critical care team at Children's Health is prepared to treat children with any critical care diagnosis or crisis, including acute lung injury. At Children’s, we provide patient-centered care, which means we put your child’s interests at the forefront. We have multiple resources that are designed to not only meet the needs of your child, but also your entire family. Some of those resources include

Immediate family is welcome 24 hours a day and we even provide sleeping accommodations, though they are limited.

Although our main focus has always been high-quality patient care, many of our medical staff members also conduct research into new treatment methods and technologies. This allows Children’s to have access to new therapies years before they are available at other institutions.

Our medical staff also wrote one of the major textbooks in the field of pediatric critical care, which helped define how Pediatric critical care is provided nationally.

Pediatric Acute Lung Injury Doctors and Providers


For more information on acute lung injury, refer to the following resources: