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Paediatr Respir Rev. 2012 Jun;13(2):112-22. doi: 10.1016/j.prrv.2011.09.002. Epub 2011 Nov 21.

Pulmonary embolism in children.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Locked Bag 4001, Westmead, NSW, Australia.


Unlike in adults, pulmonary embolism (PE) is an infrequent event in children. It has a marked bimodal distribution during the paediatric years, occurring predominantly in neonates and adolescents. The most important predisposing factors to PE in children are the presence of a central venous line (CVL), infection, and congenital heart disease. Clinical signs of PE are non-specific in children or can be masked by underlying conditions. Diagnostic testing is necessary in children, especially with the lack of clinical prediction rules. Recommendations for tests are derived from adult studies with ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) scintigraphy being well established. There exists an increasing role for computerised tomography pulmonary angiography (CTPA) and magnetic resonance pulmonary angiography (MRPA). Thrombotic events in children are initially treated with unfractionated heparin (UFH) or low molecular weight heparin (LMWH). For the extended anticoagulant therapy LMWH or vitamin K antagonists can be used with duration of treatment recommendations extrapolated from adult data. Mortality rates for PE in children are reported to be around 10%, with death usually related to the underlying disease processes. Exact data about recurrence risk in children is unknown. Because of the difference in aetiology, presentation, diagnostic methods and treatment between adults and children further research is necessary to assess the validity of recommendations for children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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