Bacterial tracheitis - Report of four cases

T. Z. Hwang, C. C. Liu

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Bacterial tracheitis is a rare acute infectious disease in children. It frequently causes severe upper airway obstruction and requires the active participation of otolaryngologists in diagnosis and management. There have been very few cases of bacterial tracheitis reported in Taiwan. This article presents our experience with this disease. The records of the children diagnosed as having bacterial tracheitis between May 1996 and October 1998 were reviewed. Assessment include demographic characteristics and clinical manifestations, findings on physical, radiological, endoscopic, and laboratory examinations, methods of treatment and outcome. The 4 cases included three boys and one girl. Their ages ranged from 7 months to 2 years and 3 months. All the children had presented with fever, hoarseness, barking cough, stridor, retraction, and impending respiratory failure. Subglottic narrowing was demonstrated radiologically in two cases. Leukocytosis with a shift to the left and elevated C-reactive protein were noted in all cases. Bacterial culture of the tracheal secretions yielded viridans streptococci (2 cases), Streptococcus pneumoniae (1 case), and Haemophilus influenzae type b (1 case). Influenza Et infection coexisted in one case. Intravenous antibiotics were given for 5 to 12 days. One patient required bronchoscopic therapy. The average duration of hospitalization was 8 days. All the children were free of complications. In conclusion, young children with symptoms of acute infectious upper airway obstruction, that fail to respond to conventional therapy for viral croup, require immediate endoscopic evaluation to establish the cause of respiratory obstruction. Bacterial tracheitis has a characteristic endoscopic picture and its diagnosis can be further verified by bacterial culture of the tracheal secretions. It is a life-threatening disease that requires aggressive airway management and antibiotic therapy, even before the results of bacterial culture, to prevent significant morbidity and mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-342
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Taiwan Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology

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