Case Report of Poor Growth, Splenomegaly, and Pneumopathy

From AGA twitter feed link/Gastroenterology Volume 147, Issue 4, Pages e3–e4, October 2014.:

Question: A 6-year-old Caucasian boy presented with recurrent episodes of fatigue, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. In between these episodes, he had good exercise tolerance. He has never traveled outside Hawaii and Western Europe, had no known allergies, and was not taking any medication. An unexplained splenomegaly had first been discovered 6 months ago.

Clinical examination was unremarkable except for growth below the expected range (Figure A) and splenomegaly with a palpable spleen 4 cm below coastal margin. There was no heart murmur, dyspnea, clubbing, icterus, eczema, or lymphadenopathy. Neurologic development was adequate for age.

Laboratory workup showed no anemia and normal lymphocyte subsets. The thrombocytes were in the low normal range (155 × 109/L) and aspartate transaminase (56 U/L) was mildly elevated. The fecal pancreatic elastase and calprotectin were in the normal range. Ultrasonography revealed enlarged liver and spleen without evidence of portal vein thrombosis or focal lesions. A chest x-ray displayed bilateral interstitial lung disease with a reticulonodular pattern.

What is the most likely diagnosis? 

Here’s the link: Answer and explanation.

Outcome of “Successful” Biliary Atresia Patients

A recent publication (J Pediatr 2014; 165: 539-546) from the Childhood Liver Disease Research and Education Network (CHiLDREN) provides a strong rationale for close followup of biliary atresia (BA) patients with their native livers.  The Biliary Atresia Study of Infants and Children (BASIC) is one of the ongoing longitudinal studies within CHiLDREN.

Among a cross-sectional study BASIC cohort of 219 children (median age 9.7 years) who survived with their native livers for at least 5 years, they had the following findings:

  • In preceding 12 months, cholangitis occurred in 17%, and 62% had experienced cholangitis at least once following hepatoportoenterostomy (HPE) (also called Kasai procedure.  The authors note wide discrepancy in usage of prophylactic antibiotics; some stop at 2 years following HPE and some never stop antibiotic prophylaxis.
  • In preceding 12 months, bone fractures occurred in 5.5%.  Overall, 15% had had at least one bone fracture at some point, which is higher than the general population. Only 14.6% of entire cohort were receiving vitamin D supplementation.
  • Portal hypertension: clinically detectable splenomegaly, thrombocytopenia, ascites, and variceal hemorrhage were seen in 56%, 43%, 17%, and 9% of patients in this cohort.
  • Health-related quality of life was reported as normal in 53%
  • Mean height and weight z-scores were normal in this cohort.
  • Over 98% had clinical or biochemical evidence of chronic liver disease.

Full-text Link

Bottomline: This BASIC study shows the need for careful followup of “successful” biliary atresia patients and provides more accurate data regarding risks of specific complications.

Briefly noted: J Pediatr 2014; 165: 547-55.  In this study with same first author (Vicky Ng), the investigators develop and validate a pediatric liver transplantation (LT) quality of live instrument for LT patients aged 8-18 years.

Related blog posts:

Blood is not enough

…to resolve the problems of sickle cell anemia.  The effects of transfusions for sickle cell patients’ hepatobiliary function are poorly understood.  By lowering the level of hemoglobin S and reducing sickling, can this lead to improvement in organs damaged by sinusoidal congestion and infarction?  Well probably not (J Pediatr 2012; 160: 281-85).

Strokes are known to occur in 5-10% of sickle cell patients by 20 years of age and if untreated, >50% have recurrence.  This has led to transfusion programs.  The ‘Stroke with Transfusions Changing to Hydrdoxyurea’ (SWiTCH) study is a multi-center randomized trial trying to determine how current treatment (transfusions and chelation) compares with hydroxyurea/phlebotomy for preventing stroke and managing iron overload.  As part of this study, a baseline assessment with ultrasound showed widespread problems -despite an average of 7 years of transfusions.  In this cohort of 149 patients, the following findings were identified:

  • Spleen volumes were increased in more than 1/3rd of patients leading to hypersplenism (low platelet counts). 12 subjects had nonvisible spleens due to autoinfarction.
  • Nephromegaly was present.  This finding is known to occur with sickle cell disease and is a marker of glomerular hyperfiltration.
  • Hepatobiliary disease was nearly ubiquitous.  37 of 148 had previous cholecytectomy; of the remaining, 46 of 111 (41%) had gallstones and 14% had gallbladder sludge.  Liver lengths were significantly longer as well.

Conclusions: Transfusion therapy was insufficient to reverse or prevent organ damage in children with sickle cell anemia.  An important limitation– the severity of the underlying prevalence of organ dysfunction prior to initiation of transfusion therapy was not known.

Additional references:

  • -Blood 2011; 117: 772-9.  Silent cerebral infarcts occur despite regular blood transfusions.
  • -Clin Gastro & Hep 2007; 5: 1469.  Reviews types of sickle cell associated liver disease.
  • -Pediatric Hematology and Oncology.  2006 Mar;23(2): 95-102(8).  Sickle cell intrahepatic cholestasis (SCIC), which is related to intrahepatic sinusoidal RBC sickling (due to relative hypoxia) and can be associated with progressive hepatomegaly, mild transaminitis, extreme hyperbilirubinemia
  • -JPGN 2004; 39: 200.  Review of sickle cell hepatic crisis.  Cholestasis resolves over 3 months.  Acute crisis treated with hyperhydration & transfusion. Cohort of 350; 6 developed hepatic crisis.
  • -J Pediatr 2001; 139: 785-789 & 790-796.  Transfusions and hydroxyurea for SS dz.