Idiopathic pulmonary haemosiderosis in paediatric patients: How to make an early diagnosis

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Background: Idiopathic pulmonary haemosiderosis (IPH) is a rare but potentially lethal condition in paediatric patients. This condition is considered an immune-mediated disorder, but its pathogenesis is still unknown. Idiopathic pulmonary haemosiderosis is characterized by the classical triad of haemoptysis, iron-deficiency anaemia, and diffuse parenchymal consolidation on chest radiology. Unfortunately, this triad of signs is not frequent in children at the onset of this disease, resulting in a delay in diagnosis and a negative outcome. Case presentation: This case report describes a 4-year-old girl who was admitted for an acute episode of lower respiratory tract infection associated with severe dyspnoea, polypnoea, and severe anaemia (haemoglobin levels, 5.9 g/dL). She had a history of previous similar episodes, with anaemia treated unsuccessfully with iron supplementation and managed through repeated blood transfusions in the acute phase. She did not experience haemoptysis. A computed tomography (CT) scan of the thorax showed ground-glass opacity suggestive of pulmonary haemorrhage. After other causes of intra-alveolar haemorrhage were excluded, IPH was confirmed by the presence of siderophages in bronchoalveolar lavage. Immunosuppressive corticosteroid treatment was immediately started with a good clinical response. Conclusion: This case highlights the fact that IPH should be suspected in children with recurrent lower respiratory tract infections who have a history of iron-deficiency anaemia who shows no signs of improvement with iron supplementation and may require repeated blood transfusions. The absence of haemoptysis does not exclude the diagnosis of IPH in children. An early and prompt diagnosis is recommended in order to start adequate immunosuppressive treatment.




Castellazzi, L., Patria, M. F., Frati, G., Esposito, A. A., & Esposito, S. (2016). Idiopathic pulmonary haemosiderosis in paediatric patients: How to make an early diagnosis. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 42(1).

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