RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Multivariate predictive models for group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal pharyngitis in children.

OBJECTIVES: To create predictive models for the clinical diagnosis of group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal (GABHS) pharyngitis in children.

METHODS: Patients aged 6 months to 18 years presenting to a pediatric ED with suspected GABHS pharyngitis were prospectively enrolled in the study. Clinicians recorded pertinent clinical information using a standardized form and obtained a throat swab to culture GABHS using a reference standard method. Twelve demographic and clinical features of patients with positive throat cultures were compared with the features of patients with negative throat cultures. Significantly different features were entered in a stepwise logistic regression analysis to create predictive models for the diagnosis.

RESULTS: Eighty-five patients (29%) were culture-positive and 212 (71%) were culture-negative for GABHS. Respective mean ages were 6.2 years and 6.1 years in the two groups. Univariate chi-square analysis of the 12 features identified six variables that were significantly associated with GABHS. All significant features were initially included in a stepwise logistic regression analysis. In model I, four independent variables were identified: moderate to severe presentation of tonsillar swelling, moderate to severe tenderness and enlargement of cervical lymph nodes, the presence of scarlatiniform rash, and the absence of moderate to severe coryza, yielding a 95% probability for GABHS. Excluding the rare scarlatiniform rash, the remaining variables were used in the second regression analysis. In model II, three independent variables were identified: moderate to severe tonsillar swelling, moderate to severe tenderness and enlargement of cervical lymph nodes, and absence of moderate to severe coryza, yielding a probability of 65% for the diagnosis. A probability of <15% was observed in the absence of scarlatiniform rash, the absence of moderate to severe tenderness and enlargement of cervical lymph nodes, and the presence of moderate to severe coryza.

CONCLUSIONS: In children with moderate to severe presentation of tonsillar swelling, tenderness and enlargement of cervical lymph nodes, and the absence of coryza, the probability of a positive throat culture is >65%. Conversely, in the absence of a moderate to severe presentation of tonsillar swelling, enlargement of cervical nodes, and the presence of coryza, the probability of a positive throat culture is <15%. If prospectively validated, these models could be integrated into a consistent treat, test, and no treatment/no testing approach to the clinical management of childhood pharyngitis.

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