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Pulmonary function tests in beta thalassemia

Abstract

To study pulmonary function tests (PFT) in multiple transfusion recipient thalassemics, PFTs were done for 30 thalassemics and 20 matched controls. Confirmed cases of thalassemia on regular transfusion therapy were the subject of study. Apart from history and physical examination of the thalassemics, serum ferritin estimation and spirometry were done. Parameters studied included lung volumes—functional residual capacity (FRC), forced vital capacity (FVC), residual volume (RV) and total lung capacity (TLC); and flow rates —forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV,), forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced vital capacity (FEV,/FVC), peak expiratory flow 25–75 (PEF 25–75%) and peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR). Single breath carbon monoxide diffusing capacity (DLco) and arterial blood gas (ABG) were also analysed. The mean height and weight of thalassemics were below that of age matched controls. A restrictive abnormality in PFT was found in 86.6% cases. These patients were found to have a decrease in all the lung volumes namely FVC, FRC, RV and TLC with a proportional decrease in the flow rates, FEV1, PEF 25–75% and PEF with a normal (> 0.75) FEV1/FVC ratio. DLco was decreased in all the patients with restrictive lung disease and fall in DLco showed a good correlation (r = 0.7, P <. 001) with the severity of restrictive disease suggesting that some intrapulmonary pathology is likely to be responsible for the restrictive pattern. None of the cases had an obstructive or mixed pattern of pulmonary dysfunction. No correlation was found between severity of restrictive disease and the serum ferritin levels. A negative correlation with degree of hepatosplenomegaly was found. No correlation was found between severity of the defect and age, number of blood transfusions received and hemoglobin at the time of doing the test. To conclude, restrictive lung disease is the predominant abnormality in multi-transfused thalassemics, which is probably due to pulmonary parenchymal pathology. The abnormality of PFTs is not directly related to iron overload.

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Correspondence to Jagdish Chandra.

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Arora, M., Chandra, J., Suri, J.C. et al. Pulmonary function tests in beta thalassemia. Indian J Pediatr 68, 239–242 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02723198

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02723198

Key words

  • Pulmonary function tests
  • Thalassemia
  • Lung volumes