Study objectives: Our current knowledge of pediatric bronchiolitis obliterans (BO) is based largely on a few small series of patients that were reported in the older literature. In these older cases, the mortality rate was high. This study was conducted to investigate the characteristics of pediatric BO cases in two different countries.
Design: We extracted specific information regarding predisposing factors, symptoms and signs, diagnostic studies, treatment, and outcome from the medical records of 31 children who received diagnoses of BO at four university medical centers in Korea and the United States in the 1990s.
Results: The large number of Asian children reflects a clustering of cases in Korea due to adenovirus and Mycoplasma pneumoniae epidemics. The characteristic diagnostic features of BO were present in 29 of 30 high-resolution CT (HRCT) studies. Seven of nine children who underwent biopsies had histologic confirmations of BO. In two patients whose biopsy results were nondiagnostic, the diagnosis was established by HRCT together with pulmonary function testing results that were consistent with nonreversible small airways obstruction. Fifteen children (48.4%) had evidence of hypoxemia. At present, all but one are alive. Patients with elevated severity-of-illness scores were observed to have increased likelihoods of lung transplantation or death.
Conclusions: We conclude that BO has a good overall prognosis and that the mortality rate has declined over the past decade. This could be related primarily to the use of HRCT for accurate diagnosis and the availability of pediatric lung transplantation. BO cases in Korea were associated with infectious epidemics, whereas those in United States had variable predisposing factors.