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1/30. Asplenia as a cause of sudden unexpected death in childhood.

    Sudden unexpected death in childhood is rare. The commonest causes of such deaths are a result of fulminating infections of the respiratory or nervous systems. Other causes include unsuspected congenital abnormalities of the heart, acute metabolic disorders, and rarities such as internal hemorrhages and pulmonary thrombosis. Recognition of children with congenital asplenia who are otherwise normal but have an increased susceptibility to overwhelming sepsis is extremely difficult. We reviewed 1763 autopsy files from our institution over 5 years (1990-1995), of which 293 were classified as pediatric cases. The vast majority of the cases were stillbirths and deaths within the first year of life as a result of complex congenital anomalies. Four cases of asplenia were identified in our entire series, 3 of which were of the congenital syndromal variety and 1 of which was a case of isolated sporadic congenital asplenia. All 4 cases of asplenia were analyzed in detail with respect to autopsy findings and cause of death. Severe complex cardiac malformations were present in the congenital syndromal asplenia patients; these other malformations contributed significantly to their death. In this report, we discuss in detail the autopsy findings in a previously healthy 4-year-old girl who presented with a brief 8-hour history of being unwell and died within 4 hours of admission into the hospital. She had sporadic, isolated congenital asplenia complicated by high-grade type 6B pneumococcemia and acute bilateral adrenal hemorrhage (waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome). Previously healthy children who clinically deteriorate very rapidly should have a blood smear done as part of their clinical workup. The detection of Howell-Jolly bodies on a peripheral blood smear can be an indicator of asplenia, and this diagnosis can be confirmed by medical imaging of the abdomen. Such steps may aid in the aggressive management of isolated congenital asplenia and thereby avert untimely death. ( info)

2/30. waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome secondary to capnocytophaga canimorsus septicemia and demonstration of bacteremia by peripheral blood smear.

    waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome caused by capnocytophaga canimorsus septicemia was fatal in a previously healthy 47-year-old woman. The patient died suddenly in less than 12 hours after presentation, in spite of supportive measures, including ventilation, antibiotic coverage, pressor therapy, and multiple transfusions of blood products. The diagnosis of infection due to an unusual organism was suspected earlier in the course of management after review of the peripheral blood smear. The importance of the findings in the blood smear and their correlation with infection due to this organism are discussed. ( info)

3/30. waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome and bilateral renal cortical necrosis in meningococcal sepsis.

    waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome and bilateral renal cortical necrosis (BRCN) are rare complications of meningococcal sepsis associated with high mortality rates. We describe a 20-year-old man who presented with a 1-day history of fever, chills, malaise, and vomiting. He collapsed in the emergency room, requiring mechanical ventilation and intravenous vasopressors for resuscitation. He was noted to be anuric, and computed tomography showed adrenal hemorrhage and BRCN. blood cultures later confirmed neisseria meningitidis sepsis, and a biopsy confirmed renal cortical infarction. The patient was treated aggressively with intravenous antibiotics, corticosteroids, and immunoglobulins, in addition to plasmapheresis, dialysis, and supportive measures. He recovered his adrenal function and was discharged from the hospital, but he remains dialysis dependent. To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of concomitant waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome and BRCN in a patient with meningococcal sepsis. ( info)

4/30. Fatal pneumococcal waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome.

    There have only been six deaths reported in the English literature due to disseminated intravascular coagulation and waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome complicating pneumococcemia in otherwise healthy persons with normal spleens. Four of these deaths occurred in children and two in adults. A case of fulminant pneumococcemia complicated by disseminated intravascular coagulation and waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome in an otherwise healthy adult with a normal spleen is presented. The case is typical of the course of fulminant pneumococcal sepsis and highlights some of the difficulties experienced by rural general practitioners and rural retrieval services. Mechanisms by which Pneumococcus can elicit fulminant sepsis are discussed, although there is no explanation as to why this may occur in the setting of normal splenic function. ( info)

5/30. The protective effect of brachial plexus palsy in purpura fulminans.

    Acute infectious purpura fulminans is reported in a 16-month-old male with a history of posttraumatic asplenia and complete left brachial plexus palsy. This patient developed peripheral necrosis of both lower extremities and the right upper extremity, whereas the left upper extremity was completely spared from ischemia and tissue damage. amputation of four digits on the right hand and debridement of both lower extremities were required. This patient demonstrated the protective effect of a traumatic sympathectomy, which suggests the requirement of an intact sympathetic reflex in the development of purpura fulminans. ( info)

6/30. waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome after infection with group A streptococcus.

    We report a case of waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome associated with group A streptococcus (GAS) toxic shock syndrome in a previously healthy man. The patient presented with neck pain and fevers of 2 days' duration. Computed tomography of the neck revealed a mass in the retropharyngeal space, suggesting an abscess. Despite prompt treatment with appropriate antibiotics, the patient experienced a fulminant course and died within 8 hours of presentation. Antemortem blood cultures grew GAS positive for exotoxins A, B, and C. Postmortem examination revealed bilateral adrenal hemorrhage, consistent with waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome. Immunohistochemical analysis of the adrenal glands revealed the presence of GAS antigens. However, no disseminated intravascular coagulation was evident. This case demonstrates that adrenal hemorrhage can occur without associated coagulopathy and may result directly from the action of bacterial toxins. ( info)

7/30. Human recombinant activated protein c in meningococcal sepsis.

    A 19-year-old woman presented with purpura fulminans and septic shock; subsequently, progressive coagulopathy, widespread purpura fulminans associated with meningococcemia, severe shock, respiratory, and renal failure developed. This clinical course was associated with depletion of functional protein c levels to < 5%. We describe her clinical course and therapy with human recombinant activated protein c. ( info)

8/30. Fatal waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome due to Ewingella americana infection.

    A fatal case of waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome resulting from infection in a previously healthy 74-year-old woman is reported. The patient died suddenly within 14 hours after presentation. The diagnosis of waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome as the cause of death was established post mortem based on autopsy findings, microscopic examination, measurement of serum procalcitonin concentration (113 ng/ml), and outcome of postmortem bacteriologic cultures that grew in heart and spleen blood samples. Since the introduction of as a new group in the family in 1983, more recent case studies have established its clinical significance and pathogenic potential to cause severe, life-threatening bacteremia and sepsis. is a rare pathogen that should be added to the list of unusual bacteria causing waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome. ( info)

9/30. waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome as a result of non-meningococcal infection.

    waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome--massive adrenal haemorrhage in the setting of overwhelming clinical sepsis--is usually taken at necropsy to indicate meningococcal infection, and may be the only evidence of this pathogen. This report describes three fatal cases of the syndrome in which the causative organism proved to be a streptococcus. The organisms were detected during routine coroners' autopsies with histology and microbiological investigations. In two cases, the syndrome followed streptococcus pneumoniae infection and in a third beta haemolytic streptococcus group A. Thus, adrenal haemorrhage alone cannot be taken to indicate meningococcal disease and other pathogens, particularly streptococcus, must be considered. ( info)

10/30. OPSI (overwhelming postsplenectomy infection) syndrome: a case report.

    Splenectomized patients are likely to suffer from severe infections, such as sepsis and meningitis. This syndrome is called overwhelming postsplenectomy infection (OPSI) in europe and America. We present an adult case of OPSI syndrome, which occurred as respiratory insufficiency, and thrombocytopenia. The course is rapid, the clinical symptoms are serious, and the prognosis is very poor. Clinical examination showed cyanosis, mandibular hypertonia, psychomotor anxiety and purpura. Laboratory findings were thrombocytopenia, leukocytosis, hypoglycemia and altered coagulation parameters. A chest X-ray showed right pulmonary aspecific thickening. The autopsy findings occurred as waterhouse-friderichsen syndrome. ( info)
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