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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Respiratory Failure Due to a Large Mediastinal Mass in a 4-year-old Female with Blast Cell Crisis: A Case Report

  • Author(s): Wade, Christian I.;
  • Couperus-Mashewske, Cody J.;
  • Geurts, Mia E.;
  • Derfler, Nicholas;
  • Ngo, John;
  • Couperus, Kyle S.
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Introduction: Symptomatic leukostasis is an exceptionally atypical presentation of blast crisis; and when coupled with an enlarged neoplastic mediastinal mass in a four-year-old female, an extremely rare and challenging pediatric emergency arises.

Case Report: We present a unique case of a four-year-old female who arrived via emergency medical services in cardiopulmonary arrest with clinical and radiographic evidence suggestive of bilateral pneumothoraces, prompting bilateral chest tube placement. Further evaluation revealed a large mediastinal mass and a concurrent white blood cell count of 428,400 per milliliter (/mL) (4,400-12,900/mL), with a 96% blast differential, consistent with complications of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Conclusion: This case highlights how pulmonary capillary hypoperfusion secondary to leukostasis, coupled with a ventilation/perfusion mismatch due to compression atelectasis by an enlarged thymus, resulted in this patient’s respiratory arrest. Furthermore, the case highlights how mediastinal masses in pediatric patients present potential diagnostic challenges for which ultrasound may prove beneficial.

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