Fibrin airway cast obstruction: Experience, classification, and treatment guideline from Denver

Deborah R. Liptzin, Matthew D. McGraw, Paul R. Houin, Livia A. Veress

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Plastic bronchitis (PB) is a condition characterized by the formation of thick airway casts leading to acute and often life-threatening airway obstruction. PB occurs mainly in pediatric patients with congenital heart disease (CHO) who have undergone staged surgical palliation (Glenn, Fontan), but can also occur after chemical inhalation, H1N1, severe COVID-19, sickle cell disease, severe asthma, and other diseases. Mortality risk from PB can be up to 40%–60%, and no treatment guideline exist. The objectives herein are to develop a standardized evaluation, classification, and treatment guideline for PB patients presenting with tracheobronchial casts, based on our experience with PB at the Children's Hospital of Colorado in Denver. Methods: We describe 11 patients with CHO-associated PB (post-Fontan [n = 9], pre-Fontan [n = 2]) who presented with their initial episodes. We utilized histopathological analysis of tracheobronchial casts to guide treatment in these patients, utilizing our hospital-wide guideline document and classification system. Results: We found that 100% of post-Fontan PB patients had fibrinous airway casts, while pre-Fontan PB casts were fibrinous only in one of two patients (50%). Utilizing histopathology as a guide to therapy, PB patients with fibrin airway casts were treated with airway-delivered fibrinolytics and anticoagulants, as well as aggressive airway clearance and other supportive care measures. These therapies resulted in successful cast resolution and improved survival in post-Fontan PB patients. Conclusion: We have shown an improved outcome in PB patients whose treatment plan was based on Denver's PB classification schema and standardized treatment guideline based on tracheobronchial cast histopathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-537
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric Pulmonology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


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