Pulmonary Alveolar Microlithiasis in Children Less than 5 Years of Age

J Pediatr. 2020 Feb:217:158-164.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2019.10.014. Epub 2019 Nov 21.


Objective: To collect all published cases up to January 2019 of pulmonary alveolar microlithiasis (PAM) in patients age 5 years and under and to compare their characteristics with those of the 1022 cases in the most recent all-age cohort published in 2015.

Study design: We identified 28 cases of PAM worldwide in children age 5 years and under, accounting for only 2%-3% of all cases.

Results: Children seem more frequently symptomatic, notably with more cough and severe acute respiratory failure, but had no reported extrapulmonary manifestation. Children with PAM evidenced less typical radiologic findings, with frequent ground glass opacities not reported in adult cases and milder calcifications as less frequent, smaller, and mainly restricted to the lower lobes.

Conclusions: PAM remains an uncommon diagnosis in young children, as symptoms and radiologic findings are less specific. Physicians should be aware to look for calcifications in chest computed tomography at mediastinal window and avoid elution of the bronchoalveolar lavage to find microliths. Collecting longitudinal data through an international registry would help in characterizing PAM to predict disease progression and plan lung transplantation.

Keywords: children; pulmonary alveolar microlithiasis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage
  • Calcinosis / diagnosis
  • Calcinosis / epidemiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / diagnosis
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lung Diseases / diagnosis
  • Lung Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / diagnostic imaging*
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*

Supplementary concepts

  • Pulmonary Alveolar Microlithiasis