Pulmonary function is compromised in children with mediastinal lymphoma

J Pediatr Surg. 1997 Feb;32(2):294-9; discussion 299-300. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3468(97)90197-4.


Purpose: Lymphomas account for nearly 20% of the malignancies in childhood and the majority of patients with Hodgkin's Disease (HD) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) have radiological evidence of mediastinal involvement at presentation. Children with mediastinal tumors are at risk for the development of lethal airway obstruction during general anesthesia. This study quantitates the degree of the airway obstruction and the functional significance of tracheal compression in a cohort of 51 children with HD and NHL.

Results: Thirty patients with HD (mean age, 14.6 years) and 21 with NHL (mean age, 9.2 years) were included in this study. Twenty-five children (49%) had respiratory symptoms at the time of presentation. Respiratory complaints were much more common in children with NHL (76%) when compared with those with HD (30%). Pulmonary function was also significantly worse in the NHL patients who had a mean upright forced vital capacity (FVC) of 66 +/- 21%. The comparable value for the children with HD was 85 +/- 15% (P = .031). Patients with respiratory symptoms at presentation had both obstructive and restrictive deficits of pulmonary function. Their mean upright forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) was 69 +/- 22% and the FVC was 69 +/- 18%. Children with large mediastinal masses also had significantly decreased pulmonary function compared with those with small tumors. The upright FEV1 for these two groups was 72 +/- 18% versus 98 +/- 15% (P = .016). Their FVC values were 68 +/- 20% and 91 +/- 17%, respectively (P = .049). Mean tracheal compression was measured at 44% in the children with large tumors versus 27% for those with small lesions (P = .048).

Conclusion: Children with mediastinal lymphomas have both obstructive and restrictive deficits on pulmonary function testing. Pulmonary function is significantly decreased in patients with NHL, children who present with respiratory symptoms, and those with very large mediastinal masses (mediastinal mass ratio > 45%). The extent of tracheal compression correlates with the size of the mediastinal mass.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Forced Expiratory Volume*
  • Hodgkin Disease / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / physiopathology*
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Vital Capacity*