The great majority of children with croup can be diagnosed from the history of the present illness and a physical examination that show croup symptoms described above. Studies are not routinely required and should be reserved for those children who present with atypical symptoms or with extremely severe symptoms that are not obviously associated with croup. However, an anteroposterior neck X-ray may show a steeple or pencil sign indicating narrowing of the trachea.
- A pulse oximeter may be used to determine if the child is getting an
adequate amount of oxygen. This is a skin sensor, placed on the finger, toe, or
ear, connected to an oximeter machine by a wire. Normal levels would be above
95% on room air.
- X-rays of the neck may be ordered to differentiate croup from
epiglottitis, which is a more serious condition. Children with croup typically
have visible upper airway narrowing, called a steeple sign that can be seen on
- Blood tests are usually not necessary.
- Viral cultures and antibody tests are not recommended.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/31/2015
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