Pediatric Bronchiolitis


Article Author:
Evelyn Erickson


Article Editor:
Magda Mendez


Editors In Chief:
Allison Castro


Managing Editors:
Avais Raja
Orawan Chaigasame
Carrie Smith
Abdul Waheed
Khalid Alsayouri
Trevor Nezwek
Radia Jamil
Patrick Le
Anoosh Zafar Gondal
Saad Nazir
William Gossman
Hassam Zulfiqar
Steve Bhimji
John Shell
Matthew Varacallo
Heba Mahdy
Ahmad Malik
Sarosh Vaqar
Mark Pellegrini
James Hughes
Beata Beatty
Nazia Sadiq
Hajira Basit
Phillip Hynes
Tehmina Warsi


Updated:
2/12/2019 7:48:36 AM

Introduction

Bronchiolitis is inflammation of the bronchioles usually caused by an acute viral illness. It is the most common lower respiratory tract infection in children younger than 2 years of age. Respiratory distress impedes appropriate oral intake resulting in frequent doctor visits and admissions to the hospital. It has become one of the most common reasons for hospitalization of children younger than 2 years of age during the winter months.

Etiology

The most common infectious agent causing acute bronchiolitis in children is the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)[1]. RSV is an enveloped, nonsegmented, negative, single-stranded RNA virus belonging to the paramyxovirus. Other viruses that cause the condition include adenovirus, human metapneumovirus, influenza, and parainfluenza.

If an adenovirus is identified, most clinicians use it to tailor investigations because the natural course of the infection often presents as a prolonged febrile illness. Human metapneumovirus is not tested routinely. This etiological agent should be suspected when the patient tests negative for the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), yet the clinical picture suggests a similar infection. Influenza positive patients might benefit from antiviral treatment.

Epidemiology

In northern countries, the outbreaks of bronchiolitis caused by RSV occur during winter and early spring, with a peak in January. Factors increasing the risk include preterm birth, chronic lung disease (CLD), complicated congenital heart disease (CHD), immunodeficiency, infants under 3 months of age, and the presence of other underlying chronic illnesses. There has also been an association between maternal smoke exposure and the severity of RSV bronchiolitis in infants. Some studies even suggest a link between smoke exposure and the increased risk of hospitalizations in children[2].

Cockroaches, dust mites, and cat and dog dander are allergens found in homes that could also play a role in triggering the illness in infants. The Early Life (RBEL) prospective cohort study also found a correlation between wheezing secondary to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis and future development of early-onset asthma in children[3].

Pathophysiology

Bronchiolitis occurs as a result of the inflammation of the lining of the epithelial cells of the small airways in the lungs causing mucus production, inflammation and cellular necrosis of those cells. It is the inflammation of these cells that can obstruct the airway and ultimately result in wheezing.

History and Physical

The initial presentation includes a runny nose, nasal congestion, decreased appetite, and cough usually for approximately 3 days. As the disease progresses, tachypnea, the use of accessory respiratory muscles with intercostal and subcostal retractions, and wheezing can develop. Eventually grunting, nasal flaring, cyanosis, hypoxia, and respiratory failure can occur. Therefore, it is important to closely monitor children especially younger infants with this illness. Fever can sometimes be present. In such cases, urinalysis and/or urine culture can be considered to rule out a urinary tract infection (UTI), especially in uncircumcised males[4].

Evaluation

Bronchiolitis is mainly a clinical diagnosis. The diagnosis and severity of the illness should be made after eliciting a good history of present illness and based on the clinical manifestations of the patient.

Investigations for patients with bronchiolitis include identification of the virus. There are commercially available rapid diagnostic assays which include immunofluorescent and enzyme immunoassay techniques for detection of viral antigen in nasopharyngeal specimens. The results help clinicians tailor the appropriate workup and management. The information is also valuable for placement as well as isolation and grouping hospitalized patients. Chest x-rays are not routinely done because typically, these include nonspecific findings such as hyperinflation of lungs, interstitial markings, and peribronchial thickening.

Treatment / Management

The management is supportive and should include hydration, suction of the upper airway and close monitoring for signs of respiratory failure and the need for intubation and mechanical ventilation. Hypertonic saline nebulizations have been helpful. Supplemental oxygen is not routinely used unless the oxygen saturations are consistently less than 90%. Continuous pulse oximetry is not recommended either since it might increase the length of stay. Antipyretics are indicated if fever develops. Bronchodilators do not shorten the days of symptoms, admission rates or length of stay. As a result, trials are no longer recommended. Systemic steroids and racemic epinephrine are also not recommended. Antibiotics should only be used if there is a superimposed infection present in addition to the bronchiolitis.

When patients test positive for influenza A they can be managed with oseltamivir especially if administered within 2 days of the onset of illness. When this antiviral medication is given to patients at the start of the illness, it increases its effectiveness and improves the course of illness.

Differential Diagnosis

The differential diagnosis includes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), congenital malformations, asthma, or the aspiration of a foreign body.

Prognosis

Although some studies show evidence of an increased risk of asthma following an episode of bronchiolitis, only a small percentage of children with bronchiolitis develop asthma. A history of recurrent wheezing, and a positive family history of asthma, allergies and/or atopic dermatitis is believed to increase the risk of developing asthma in affected patients in the future[5].

Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

The management of bronchiolitis is with a multidisciplinary team that includes the emergency department physician, nurse practitioner, infectious disease consultant and the primary care provider. The majority of children improve with supportive care. Healthcare providers should encourage breastfeeding as it has been shown to reduce the risk of respiratory infections in children. Since the virus is passed on through air droplets, contact isolation precautions like hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers help prevent bronchiolitis infections among infants. The use of gloves and gowns are especially helpful in the hospital setting before entering and exiting the rooms of infected patients to prevent other patients and other family members from contracting the illness. At the same time, parents should be asked to discontinue smoking and maintain a clean air environment for the child.

Vaccinating all children older than 6 months of age against influenza is another preventive measure. In children younger than 6 months of age it is important that family members and caretakers get vaccinated against the influenza virus. The majority of children improve spontaneously over a few days and only the rare infant requires admission. [6][7](Level V)

 

 

 


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Pediatric Bronchiolitis - Questions

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What information should be given to a parent of a 1-year-old who has bronchiolitis?



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An 18-month-old boy born full term is brought to the emergency department because of rapid breathing. His mother says that he has had nasal congestion and decreased oral intake for the last two days. Vital signs show a temperature of 38.0 C, pulse rate of 150 beats/min, respiratory rate of 60 breaths/min, blood pressure of 80/40 mmHg, and oxygen saturation of 93% on room air. Respiratory examination shows tachypnea, nasal flaring, mild intercostal retractions, and wheezing bilaterally. Intercostal retractions improved after deep nasal suctioning. Which of the following etiologies is most likely to cause this virus illness?



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A 2-week old girl presents for nasal congestion. The mother states that the infant has had 3 days with nasal congestion. She denies any sick contacts. The physical exam is remarkable for abundant nasal secretions, intercostal retractions, and diffused wheezing on auscultation. Which of the following is the best test to help determine the diagnosis?



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What kind of virus is the respiratory syncytial virus?



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A 2-year-old is seen in the emergency department and is diagnosed with bronchiolitis. Which of the following is true about this condition? Select all that apply.



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Which of the following is not a factor associated with the increased risk of bronchiolitis in an infant?



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A 4-month-old female is admitted to an inpatient pediatric unit for acute bronchiolitis caused by a respiratory syncytial virus infection. What is the most effective way to prevent the spread of this illness among hospitalized patients?



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Which of the following is not a factor associated with the increased risk of bronchiolitis in an infant?



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Pediatric Bronchiolitis - References

References

Wagner T, Bronchiolitis. Pediatrics in review. 2009 Oct     [PubMed]
Bradley JP,Bacharier LB,Bonfiglio J,Schechtman KB,Strunk R,Storch G,Castro M, Severity of respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis is affected by cigarette smoke exposure and atopy. Pediatrics. 2005 Jan     [PubMed]
Castro M,Schweiger T,Yin-DeClue H,Ramkumar TP,Christie C,Zheng J,Cohen R,Schechtman KB,Strunk R,Bacharier LB, Cytokine response after severe respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis in early life. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology. 2008 Oct     [PubMed]
Kaluarachchi D,Kaldas V,Erickson E,Nunez R,Mendez M, When to perform urine cultures in respiratory syncytial virus-positive febrile older infants? Pediatric emergency care. 2014 Sep     [PubMed]
Törmänen S,Lauhkonen E,Riikonen R,Koponen P,Huhtala H,Helminen M,Korppi M,Nuolivirta K, Risk factors for asthma after infant bronchiolitis. Allergy. 2018 Apr     [PubMed]
Luo G,Stone BL,Nkoy FL,He S,Johnson MD, Predicting Appropriate Hospital Admission of Emergency Department Patients with Bronchiolitis: Secondary Analysis. JMIR medical informatics. 2019 Jan 22;     [PubMed]
Slain KN,Rotta AT,Martinez-Schlurmann N,Stormorken AG,Shein SL, Outcomes of Children With Critical Bronchiolitis Meeting at Risk for Pediatric Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Criteria. Pediatric critical care medicine : a journal of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies. 2019 Feb;     [PubMed]

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