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J Pediatr Surg. 2000 May;35(5):796-800.

Pulmonary lymphangiectasia revisited.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Montreal, Sainte-Justine Hospital, Quebec, Canada.



Pulmonary lymphangiectasia (PL) is a rare, poorly documented disease characterized by abnormal pulmonary lymphatics. Although case reports are published, little is known about survivors past the neonatal period.


This is a retrospective review of histologically proven PL in fetuses, infants, and long term survivors since 1965.


Eleven children (8 boys, 3 girls) and 8 aborted fetuses (7 male, 1 female) were identified. The fetuses weighed 463.4 g (177 to 681 g). Six were aborted between 19 to 24 weeks of gestation for multiple malformations or anencephaly, and 2 spontaneously aborted: one with PL only, the other with twin-twin transfusion syndrome. Clinical PL was diagnosed between 0 and 11 months of age. Six children died (2 neonatal, 4 within 10 days), 5 survived. Two deaths occurred after cardiac surgery. Among survivors, the symptomatology and frequency of admissions diminished over time. Symptoms included progressive respiratory distress, chronic cough, recurrent pneumonia, bronchial asthma, and choking. One child with bilateral chylothorax was later diagnosed with Noonan syndrome; 2 patients had minor cardiac malformations. Rapid deterioration occurred with mild respiratory infections with only supportive treatment available. Chest x-ray showed marked hyperinflation with interstitial infiltrate.


This is the first long-term study of primary PL and will help counsel parents. Although fatal in the neonatal period, survival is possible if diagnosed past the neonatal period and improvement is expected.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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