Background: Allergic fungal sinusitis (AFS) has been characterized in adults presenting with chronic sinusitis. Rare reports allude to a similar disease in children.
Objective: To characterize the features of AFS in children.
Methods: Children referred to otolaryngology clinics at Arkansas and LeBonheur Children's Hospitals for chronic sinusitis during a 12-year period were studied. This retrospective analysis reviews the following: clinical presentation, laboratory evaluations, radiographic and pathologic findings, and surgical intervention. Twenty patients (age range, 7-18 years; mean age, 12.5 years; median age, 16 years) met previously published criteria for AFS. Thirteen patients were male and 7 were female. Thirteen were African American and 7 were white.
Results: Presentation at diagnosis included the following: atopy (n = 20), nasal symptoms (n = 20), recurrent sinusitis (n = 18), nasal polyps (n = 18), recurrent headaches (n = 12), asthma (n = 11), proptosis (n = 10), and ocular symptoms (n = 10). All had radiographic evidence of sinusitis and allergy to fungal organisms. IgE levels were elevated in 8 of 9 patients, and 10 of 15 patients had eosinophilia. Surgical specimens demonstrated allergic mucin (n = 11), Charcot-Leyden crystals (n = 2), hyphae or fungal debris (n = 9), and fungal growth (n = 17). All patients underwent endoscopic sinus surgery, with 11 requiring multiple surgical procedures. Postoperatively, 19 patients received intranasal and oral steroids, and all had nasal saline washes. Eleven patients (9 who had undergone multiple surgical procedures) were treated with immunotherapy. Relapse was seen in 55% of patients at 1 year of follow-up.
Conclusion: AFS presents with a higher incidence of proptosis in children when compared with adults. Typically, AFS occurs in atopic children with refractory sinus disease, requiring a high index of suspicion for evaluation and aggressive treatment.