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Unusual Case of Plastic Bronchitis Presenting with Pneumopericardium

Toribiong Uchel, Shahniwaz Labana, Stephanie Tancer, Victoria Gonzalez, Daniel Kapadia, Zain Kulairi, Muhammad Kashlan

(Department of Internal Medicine, Wayne State University, Rochester Hills, MI, USA)

Am J Case Rep 2018; 19:1434-1436

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.911311

BACKGROUND: Lymphatic circulation in the thorax enters the systemic blood flow at the subclavian vein. Instances where diversion occurs leads to complications such as pleural effusion. A rare complication of lymphatic diversion results in fluid accumulation in the bronchial tree, causing plastic bronchitis. The following case is the first ever report of plastic bronchitis presenting with pneumopericardium.
CASE REPORT: A 24-year-old female presented to our Emergency Department with an asthma exacerbation. After initiating bronchodilators, a chest radiograph (CXR) showed extensive subcutaneous emphysema, pneumomediastinum, and pneumothorax with atelectasis of the left lung. Chest tomography supported the CXR findings, as well as a finding of pneumopericardium. A thoracostomy tube was placed and a mediastinal window and pericardial window procedure were performed in an attempt to relieve the pressure upon the collapsed lung. Despite these invasive procedures, there was minimal improvement of lung volume with further respiratory deterioration; the patient eventually required mechanical ventilation. Bronchoscopy was performed, which evacuated a white chalky and rubbery substance that created a mold of the bronchial airways. Following the bronchoscopy, the patient’s respiratory status improved, requiring less ventilator support, and that patient was successfully extubated.
CONCLUSIONS: This case highlights the most crucial management of a patient presenting with pneumomediastinum, pneumothorax, and pneumopericardium due to plastic bronchitis. Plastic bronchitis should be high on the list of differential diagnoses. The management of plastic bronchitis with bronchoscopy is supported by the fact that no invasive therapy such as thoracostomy tube or mechanical ventilator alleviated the problem, however, bronchoscopy removed the worm-like cast lodged within the lumen of the bronchial tree.

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