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Int J Surg Pathol. 2008 Apr;16(2):230-2. doi: 10.1177/1066896907307234. Epub 2008 Apr 2.

The potentially lethal nature of bronchial casts: plastic bronchitis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Yale Universty School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.


The gross and microscopic findings from 2 fatal cases of plastic bronchitis (PB) in children, a rare entity characterized by the formation of large mucous casts in the bronchial tree, are presented. These casts differ from ordinary mucus because of their increased cohesiveness and consistency, resulting in solid structures that model the respiratory airway tree. PB usually presents as a complication of underlying diseases, which determine the prognosis of the afflicted patients. Conditions commonly associated with PB include congenital cardiopathies, lymph vessel malformations, asthma, and sickle cell disease. The first case is a typical example of PB following surgical treatment of a cyanotic cardiopathy, with very characteristic and illustrative morphology. The second case describes the fatal course of PB in a patient with sickle cell disease, which has never been reported to the best of the authors' knowledge; in this case, an overlooked association with asthma could have contributed to the fatal outcome.

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