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The need to redefine non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis in childhood


Background: Non-cystic fibrosis (CF) bronchiectasis has previously been reported to be rare and progressive in children living in western societies.

Method: A clinical and radiological review was undertaken of 93 children with non-CF bronchiectasis defined by high resolution computed tomographic (HRCT) scanning presenting to a tertiary paediatric respiratory centre since 1996.

Results: Cases constituted 9.6% of all new referrals. Male to female ratio was 2:1. Median age at symptom onset was 1.1 years (range 0–16) and of HRCT diagnosis was 7.2 years (1.6–18.8). The most common referral diagnosis of asthma was refuted in 39 of 45 cases. Associations were previous pneumonic illness (30%), immunocompromise (21%), obliterative bronchiolitis (9%), congenital lung abnormality (5%), chronic aspiration (3%), eosinophilic oesophagitis (2%), familial syndrome (2%), primary ciliary dyskinesia (1%), and right middle lobe syndrome (1%). 8% had two associated diagnoses and 18% were idiopathic. There was agreement between the chest radiograph and HRCT scan for diagnosis and lobe affected in only five cases (5%). A repeat HRCT scan in 18 cases at a minimum interval of 18 months showed total resolution of the changes in six, improvement in one, progression in five, and was unchanged in six.

Conclusions: Radiologically defined non-CF bronchiectasis in children is not uncommon. Diagnostic delay is a problem. The most common association is a previous pneumonia. Chest radiography is of little diagnostic value, but resolution is possible on HRCT scanning. Bronchiectasis is currently defined as a condition which is both permanent and progressive. This term is not necessarily appropriate for all paediatric patients for whom we suggest an alternative nomenclature.

  • bronchiectasis
  • definition
  • children

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