Background: Bronchiectasis is not considered to be uncommon in children anymore. The relationship between pulmonary function and severity of bronchiectasis is still controversial.
Study objectives: To assess the extent and severity of bronchiectasis through high-resolution CT (HRCT) scan score, and to correlate it with clinical, microbiological, and functional data.
Patients and methods: Forty-three white children with HRCT-diagnosed bronchiectasis were studied. Bronchiectasis extent, bronchial wall thickening severity, and bronchial wall dilatation severity were evaluated using the Reiff score. Clinical, microbiological, and spirometry results were related to total HRCT scan score and to subscores as well.
Results: The percentages of affected lobes were as follows: right lower lobe, 65%; middle lobe, 56%; left lower lobe, 51%; right upper lobe, 37%; lingula, 30%; and left upper lobe, 30% (chi(2) = 18.4; p = 0.002). The mean (+/- SEM) HRCT score was 20 +/- 2.6. Total score or subscores of bronchiectasis extent, bronchial wall thickening severity, and bronchial wall dilatation severity were not significantly related to FEV(1) and FVC. Seventy-four percent of patients had asthma. The age at the onset of cough correlated with age at the time of the HRCT scan (p = 0.004) and with the presence of asthma (p = 0.01). Positive findings of deep throat or sputum cultures were found more frequently in atopic patients (p = 0.02) and asthmatic (p < 0.01) patients, and in children who were < 2 years of age at the onset of cough (p < 0.01).
Conclusions: Normal lung function may coexist with HRCT scan abnormalities and does not exclude damage to the bronchial structure. Pulmonary function is not an accurate method for assessing the severity of lung disease in children with bronchiectasis.