Viral bronchiolitis accounts for almost 20% of all-cause hospitalizations of infants (ie, children younger than age 1 year). The annual incidence of fever in viral bronchiolitis has been documented at 23% to 31%. However the incidence of concurrent serious bacterial infections is low (1%-7%), with meningitis occurring in less than 1% to 2% of cases, but lumbar puncture is performed in up to 9% of viral bronchiolitis cases. To our knowledge, no study has examined clinical factors that influence a physician’s decision to perform a lumbar puncture in the setting of viral bronchiolitis. We present a retrospective, case-control study of hospitalized infants younger than one year diagnosed with viral bronchiolitis who underwent lumbar puncture as part of an evaluation for meningitis. The objective of the study was to determine clinical factors that influence a physician’s decision to perform a lumbar puncture in the setting of viral bronchiolitis. Although the presence of apnea, cyanosis, meningeal signs, positive urine culture results, and young age were factors found to be preliminarily associated with the performance of a lumbar puncture in the setting of bronchiolitis, young age was the only significant clinical factor found after multivariable regression; no other demographic, clinical, laboratory, or radiologic variables were found to be significant.
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