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Figure 1 Chest radiograph of right lower lobe pneumonia. (Courtesy of Dr S Fowlie.)

Figure 2 Gram stain of Streptococcus pneumoniae in bronchoalveolar lavage. (Courtesy of Dr F Donald.)

used to detect infection by some organisms e.g. Mycoplasma, Legionella, Chlamydia and influenza virus, while pneumococcal capsular antigen can be detected in sputum, urine, pleural fluid and blood. Isolation of an organism is helpful in assessing the appropriateness of treatment, but in practice most cases are treated empirically on a 'best guess' policy as many laboratory results appear too late to aid initial clinical management.

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