Objective: To review clinical, laboratory, and outcome characteristics of children diagnosed with pulmonary capillaritis (PC), a small-vessel vasculitis, presenting as diffuse alveolar hemorrhage (DAH), and to compare these findings with those for children with other alveolar hemorrhage syndromes.
Study design: A retrospective chart review of patients who underwent a lung biopsy because of a clinical suggestion of pulmonary hemorrhage.
Results: PC was identified in 8 of 23 patients. In these patients, cough, crackles, and hypoxia were common. Alveolar infiltrates on radiography and anemia were present in 7 of 8 cases. Serologic evidence of a systemic vasculitis was present in 50% of patients. High-dose corticosteroids proved effective in controlling alveolar hemorrhage in all cases. There were no presenting signs or symptoms that could differentiate patients with PC from those with non-immune-mediated alveolar hemorrhage. In general, patients with PC had a lower hematocrit and higher erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR).
Conclusion: Children presenting with lower respiratory tract symptoms, chest x-ray abnormalities, and anemia should undergo evaluation for PC, as early initiation of immunosuppression can be lifesaving and organ sparing. No clinical signs to differentiate immune and non-immune-mediated alveolar hemorrhage were evident in this study.