Research: High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema in Two Pediatric Patients with Pre-Existing Lung Disease

Pediatr Rep

. 2024 Apr 5;16(2):271-277.

 doi: 10.3390/pediatric16020023.

High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema in Two Pediatric Patients with Pre-Existing Lung Disease

Ali Alsuheel Asseri 1Marei Assiri 2Norah Alshehri 2Noha Saad Alyazidi 2Ahmed Alasmari 2Saud Q Alshabab 3Nada Abdullah Asiri 3

Affiliations expand


Background: The illnesses associated with changes in barometric pressure can be classified into three types: acute mountain sickness, high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), and high-altitude cerebral edema. HAPE is a rare form of pulmonary edema that occurs in susceptible individuals after arriving at altitudes over 2500 m above sea level (m). Only a few studies have reported classical HAPE among children with underlying cardiopulmonary comorbidities. In this study, we report two pediatric cases of classical HAPE that occurred immediately upon arriving at Abha city (with an average elevation of 2270 m above sea level). Notably, both patients possessed underlying chronic lung diseases, raising crucial questions about susceptibility factors and the early onset manifestations of HAPE.

Case: Two pediatric cases of HAPE are presented. The first patient, with a medical history of repaired right congenital diaphragmatic hernia and subsequent right lung hypoplasia, developed HAPE following their ascent to a high altitude. The second patient, diagnosed with diffuse lung disease of unknown etiology, experienced HAPE after a rapid high-altitude ascent. Both patients resided in low-altitude areas prior to ascent. The initial emergency room assessment revealed that both patients had severe hypoxia with respiratory distress that mandated the initiation of respiratory support and 100% oxygen therapy. They required intensive care unit admission, improved after 5 days of hospitalization, and were sent home in good condition.

Conclusion: HAPE is a complex, potentially life-threatening high-altitude illness with diverse clinical presentations and variable risk factors. This case report sheds light on a potential predisposition factor-pre-existing lung disease-in children experiencing severe HAPE. While further validation is crucial, this valuable insight opens doors for improved preventative strategies and informed medical decisions for children with pre-existing lung conditions traveling to high altitudes.

Keywords: Abha; Saudi Arabia; children; chronic lung disease; high-altitude pulmonary edema.

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