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scientific articles

Acute Chest Syndrome in Children with Sickle Cell Disease

key information

source: Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology

year: 2017

authors: Jain S, Bakshi N, Krishnamurti L


Acute chest syndrome (ACS) is a frequent cause of acute lung disease in children with sickle cell disease (SCD). Patients may present with ACS or may develop this complication during the course of a hospitalization for acute vaso-occlusive crises (VOC). ACS is associated with prolonged hospitalization, increased risk of respiratory failure, and the potential for developing chronic lung disease.

ACS in SCD is defined as the presence of fever and/or new respiratory symptoms accompanied by the presence of a new pulmonary infiltrate on chest X-ray. The spectrum of clinical manifestations can range from mild respiratory illness to acute respiratory distress syndrome. The presence of severe hypoxemia is a useful predictor of severity and outcome. The etiology of ACS is often multifactorial. One of the proposed mechanisms involves increased adhesion of sickle red cells to pulmonary microvasculature in the presence of hypoxia. Other commonly associated etiologies include infection, pulmonary fat embolism, and infarction. Infection is a common cause in children, whereas adults usually present with pain crises.

Several risk factors have been identified in children to be associated with increased incidence of ACS. These include younger age, severe SCD genotypes (SS or Sβ0 thalassemia), lower fetal hemoglobin concentrations, higher steady-state hemoglobin levels, higher steady-state white blood cell counts, history of asthma, and tobacco smoke exposure. Opiate overdose and resulting hypoventilation can also trigger ACS. Prompt diagnosis and management with intravenous fluids, analgesics, aggressive incentive spirometry, supplemental oxygen or respiratory support, antibiotics, and transfusion therapy, are key to the prevention of clinical deterioration. Bronchodilators should be considered if there is history of asthma or in the presence of acute bronchospasm.

Treatment with hydroxyurea should be considered for prevention of recurrent episodes. This review evaluates the etiology, pathophysiology, risk factors, clinical presentation of ACS, and preventive and treatment strategies for effective management of ACS.

organization: Hemophilia Center of Western New York, USA; Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, USA

DOI: 10.1089/ped.2017.0814

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