HM19: Pediatric clinical conundrums

Atypical symptoms and diagnoses



Yemisi Jones, MD; Mirna Giordano, MD

Session title

Pediatric Clinical Conundrums

Session summary

Dr. Mirna Giordano of Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York, and Dr. Yemisi Jones of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, moderated the Pediatric Clinical Conundrums session at HM19. After reviewing multiple submissions, they invited four trainees to present their interesting cases.

Malignancy or infection? Dr. Jeremy Brown, a resident at the University of Louisville, presented a case of a 15-year-old male with right upper quadrant abdominal pain with associated weight loss and intermittent fevers, over the course of several weeks. CT revealed multiple liver lesions, providing concern for possible malignancy, although liver biopsy proved otherwise, with mostly liquefactive tissue and benign liver parenchyma. After a large infectious work-up ensued, the patient was diagnosed with disseminated Bartonella. He was treated with a 10-day course of azithromycin, and his symptoms resolved.

Leg blisters as an uncommon manifestation of a common childhood disease. Dr. Stefan Mammele, a resident at Kapi’olani Medical Center in Honolulu, and the University of Hawaii, presented a case of an 11-year-old boy with a painful and pruritic rash associated with multiple 5- to 10-mm tense bullae located on the patient’s bilateral lower extremities with extension to the trunk. The patient was also found to have hematuria and proteinuria. The bullae drained both serosanguinous and purulent material. Fluid culture grew group A Streptococcus and skin biopsy confirmed IgA vasculitis. Bullae are a rare characteristic of Henoch Schönlein pupura in children, but are more commonly seen as a disease manifestation in adults. The patient was treated with cefazolin, and his lesions improved over the course of several weeks with resolution of his hematuria by 6 months.

Is she crying blood? Dr. Joshua Price, a resident at Baystate Children’s Hospital in Springfield, Mass., described a 12-year-old female who presented with 7 days of left-sided hemolacria with acute vision loss and unilateral eye pain. This patient did not respond to outpatient topical steroids and antibiotics, as prescribed by ophthalmology. For this reason, she underwent further work-up and imaging. MRI of the head and orbits revealed left maxillary sinus disease. She was treated with antibiotics for acute left maxillary sinusitis and her hemolacria resolved within 24 hours. While the differential diagnosis for hemolacria is broad, rarely acute sinusitis has been reported as a cause in medical literature.

Recurrent bronchiolitis or something more? Dr. Moira Black, a resident at Children’s Memorial Hermann in Houston, presented a case of a 7-month-old female with a history of recurrent admissions for increased work of breathing believed to be secondary to viral bronchiolitis. Her first hospitalization occurred at 7 weeks of age and was complicated by spontaneous pneumothorax requiring chest tube placement. She was again hospitalized at 5 months of age with resolution of her increased work of breathing with high-flow nasal cannula. She presented again at 7 months of age with presumed bronchiolitis, however, she decompensated and required intubation on the 5th day of hospitalization. A bronchoscopy was performed and revealed a significantly narrowed left bronchus at the carina and a blind pouch on the right with notable pulsation of the walls. She underwent further imaging and was ultimately diagnosed with a left pulmonary artery sling. Left pulmonary artery slings are a rare, but potentially fatal anomaly that can present with wheezing, stridor, and recurrent respiratory infections. Patient underwent correction by cardiovascular surgery and has since been doing well.

Key takeaways for HM

Bartonella is a common cause of fever of unknown origin, and should be considered in unusual presentations of febrile illnesses.

• Bullae in IgA vasculitis are rare in children and do not have prognostic value, but streptococcal infection may be a trigger for IgA vasculitis.

• Hemolacria is an atypical presentation of rare and common diagnoses that should prompt further work-up.

• Acute respiratory distress can be caused by underlying cardiac or vascular anomalies and can be mistaken for common viral illnesses.

Dr. Marsicek is a pediatric hospital medicine fellow at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, St. Petersburg, Fla. Dr. Wysocka is a pediatric resident at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

Next Article:

   Comments ()