Clinico-radiologic features of pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis in children

  • HaiThuy N. NguyenEmail author
  • Shailendra Das
  • Maria C. Gazzaneo
  • Ernestina Melicoff
  • George B. Mallory
  • Karen W. Eldin
  • R. Paul Guillerman
Original Article



Pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis (PPFE) may be underdiagnosed clinically and radiographically in children with a remote history of cancer, leading to a delay in care and unnecessary lung biopsies.


To describe the characteristic clinical and radiologic findings of PPFE in a cohort of children to facilitate recognition and noninvasive diagnosis.

Materials and methods

Clinical presentation, history of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, lung or bone marrow transplantation, and lung function testing and outcome were retrospectively extracted from the electronic medical records of eight children treated at our institution’s pulmonary medicine clinic with histopathology confirmation of PPFE from 2008 to 2018. Two pediatric radiologists evaluated the chest imaging studies for the presence or absence of published radiologic findings of PPFE in adults, including platythorax, pneumothorax, upper lobe predominant pleural and septal thickening, and bronchiectasis. Platythorax indices were calculated from the normal chest CT exams of eight age- and gender-matched individuals obtained via the radiology search engine.


The mean presentation age was 12.9 years (range: 7–16 years). Seven of the eight had a history of chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer. Three of the eight had undergone bone marrow transplantation and none had undergone lung transplantation. The mean time between chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or bone marrow transplantation and the presentation of PPFE was 8.4 years (range: 5.6–12.1 years). Most of the patients presented with dyspnea (63%), cough (50%) and/or pneumothorax (38%). The mean percentage of predicted FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in one second) was 14.1 (range: 7.7–27.5). All eight patients demonstrated platythorax, bronchiectasis, pleural and septal thickening (upper lobes in four, upper and lower lobes in four) and six had pneumothorax. Five underwent lung biopsies, four of whom developed pneumothoraces.


Clinical and radiologic findings of pediatric PPFE are similar to those in adults, although a majority of the former have a history of treated cancer. Clinical presentation of restrictive lung disease, dyspnea, cough or spontaneous pneumothorax years after treatment for childhood cancer combined with platythorax, upper lobe pleural and septal thickening and traction bronchiectasis on chest CT establishes a presumptive diagnosis of PPFE.


Chest Children Interstitial lung disease Late effects Lungs Pleuroparenchymal fibroelastosis 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pediatric RadiologyTexas Children’s HospitalHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pediatrics, Section of Pulmonary MedicineTexas Children’s HospitalHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PathologyTexas Children’s HospitalHoustonUSA

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