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Successful management of plastic bronchitis in a child post Fontan: case report and literature review.

  • Author(s): Do, Paul
  • Randhawa, Inderpal
  • Chin, Terry
  • Parsapour, Kourosh
  • Nussbaum, Eliezer
  • et al.


Plastic bronchitis is the occlusion of the major bronchial airways by a firm, gelatinous mucoid cast. It is a rare condition, which while classically described in asthma and sickle cell disease has greater mortality in patients with congenital heart disease. The management of this disease is obscure given the lack of clinical data regarding treatment therapies.


We describe a case of an 11-year-old female status after Fontan surgery who presented with respiratory distress secondary to atelectasis of the right lung.


A bronchoscopy was performed demonstrating an obstructing bronchial cast with successful extraction. The plastic bronchitis continued to recur and she was placed on multiple inhaled mucolytics as well as inhaled tissue plasminogen activator with temporary resolution. Further evaluation of the etiology of her casts revealed that she had elevated pulmonary arterial pressures. Repeated bronchoscopic removal of the casts was utilized as well as continuation of the aggressive airway clearance. Ultimately fenestration of her Fontan was performed along with treatment of pulmonary vasodilators sildenafil and bosentan. Although there was improvement of the cast formation, her airway clearance could only be weaned to four times a day therapy with which she was discharged home after a 3-month hospitalization. She continues to remain on this therapy and has not required hospitalization since the initial incident over 1 year ago.


Plastic bronchitis in a patient with Fontan physiology presents a treatment dilemma that may require comprehensive therapy in severe cases such as described.

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