Introduction: Bronchiectasis is generally considered irreversible in the adult population, largely based on studies employing bronchography in cases with a significant clinical history. It is assumed, that the same is true for children. Few studies have examined the natural history of bronchiectasis in children and diagnostic criteria on high-resolution computer tomography of the lungs are derived from studies on adults. Frequently, bronchiectasis is reported in children in cases where localised bronchial dilatation is present, incorrectly labelling these children with an irreversible life-long condition.
Objective: to evaluate changes in appearance of bronchial dilatation, unrelated to cystic fibrosis in children, as assessed by sequential high-resolution computer tomography (HRCT) of the lungs.
Methods: The scans of 22 children with a radiological diagnosis of bronchiectasis, seen at Alder Hey Children's Hospital between 1994 and 2000, who had at least two CT scans of the lungs were reviewed by a single radiologist, who was blinded to the original report.
Results: Following a median scan interval of 21 months (range 2-43), bronchial dilatation resolved completely in six children and there was improvement in appearances in a further eight, with medical treatment alone.
Discussion: A radiological diagnosis of bronchiectasis should be considered with caution in children as diagnostic criteria derived from studies in adults have not been validated in children and the condition is generally considered irreversible.