Bronchiolitis obliterans in children

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2008 Jun;20(3):272-8. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e3282ff62e9.


Purpose of review: In this review, we discuss recent advances in our understanding of the etiology, pathology and pathogenesis, clinical presentation, diagnosis, treatment, and outcome of bronchiolitis obliterans in the nontransplant, pediatric population.

Recent findings: The diagnosis of bronchiolitis obliterans in children can be made with confidence based on clinical presentation, particularly with a history of adenovirus bronchiolitis or pneumonia, fixed obstructive lung disease on pulmonary function testing, and characteristic changes of mosaic perfusion, vascular attenuation, and central bronchiectasis on chest high-resolution computed tomography, thus avoiding the need for lung biopsy in most patients. Patients with postinfectious bronchiolitis obliterans generally have chronic, nonprogressive disease; in contrast, patients with bronchiolitis obliterans from Stevens-Johnson syndrome often have progressive disease that may require lung transplantation.

Summary: Bronchiolitis obliterans is a rare form of chronic obstructive lung disease that follows a severe insult to the lower respiratory tract, resulting in fibrosis of the small airways. In the nontransplant pediatric population, adenovirus infection is the most common cause. Treatment is largely supportive and prognosis is mainly related to the underlying cause and to the severity of the initial insult.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans* / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Humans