Laryngeal hirudiniasis: an unusual cause of airway obstruction and hemoptysis

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2002 Mar;33(3):224-6. doi: 10.1002/ppul.10065.


Cases of childhood hemoptysis are rare and usually result from foreign body aspiration or congenital heart or lung diseases. However, human hirudiniasis due to the leech still exists, and could involve the upper airways after drinking infested water from quiet streams and pools. We report the case of a 6-year-old child who presented suffocating at the emergency room after having been misdiagnosed and treated for asthma over a 1-month period. His mother reported he had had recurrent hemoptysis, as well. The child inadvertently drank leech-infested water in a rural area of northern Syria. Surgical removal of the leech resulted in prompt resolution of the symptoms. Although laryngeal hirudiniasis is rare in the developed world, it remains a possible cause of childhood airway obstruction, hemoptysis, and anemia which needs to be considered in patients with a suggestive history.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / etiology*
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Animals
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Hemoptysis / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Diseases / complications
  • Laryngeal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Laryngeal Diseases / parasitology
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Larynx / parasitology*
  • Leeches*
  • Male
  • Parasitic Diseases / complications
  • Parasitic Diseases / diagnosis*