About Wendy Wendt, MD

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Medical College of Wisconsin

SAEM Clinical Images Series: ‘Tis Not the Season to be Wheezing

wheezing

A 2-year-old male with a history of solitary kidney presented with greater than one month of daily coughing, wheezing, and decreased appetite. The patient was previously seen by his primary care physician after three weeks of symptoms where he was prescribed albuterol as needed for viral bronchospasm. The patient’s wheezing did not improve after two weeks of albuterol treatment so a chest x-ray was ordered. The patient’s mother denied any fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, weight changes, or night sweats.

Vitals: BP 131/60; Pulse 148; Temp 36.7 °C (98.1 °F) (Axillary); Resp 28; Wt 15.7 kg (34 lb 9.8 oz); SpO2 95%

General: Alert; well appearing

HEENT: Pupils equally reactive to light; moist mucous membranes; nares with normal mucosa without discharge

Cardiovascular: Regular rate; regular rhythm; normal S1, S2; no murmur noted; distal pulses 2+

Pulmonary: Good aeration throughout all lung fields; clear breath sounds bilaterally; prolonged expiratory phase; stridor with agitation

Abdomen: Soft; non-tender; non-distended

White blood cell (WBC) count: 56.1/uL (Blasts 58%)

Platelets: 288/uL

Uric acid: 8.3 mg/dL

LDH: 2231 iU/LD

D-Dimer: 3.22 ug/mL

Fibrinogen: 463 mg/dL

Bronchospasm, bronchiolitis, viral infection, pneumonia, foreign body aspiration, space-occupying lesion, vocal cord dysfunction, cardiac dysfunction, and acute chest in patients with sickle cell disease.

The radiograph shown demonstrates a mediastinal mass. This patient was ultimately diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. T-ALL can present with fatigue, fevers, weight loss, easy bleeding/bruising, paleness, or a mediastinal mass. Mediastinal masses found on chest x-ray require further evaluation to determine the diagnosis, location, and treatment. If malignancy is suspected, an oncology referral and bone marrow sample will be necessary.

Take-Home Points

  • In patients with first-time wheezing that does not improve with bronchodilator therapy, consider alternative diagnoses and further evaluation.
  • A mediastinal mass is found at the time of diagnosis in 10% to 15% of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

  • Steuber, P (2021). Overview of common presenting signs and symptoms of childhood cancer.UpToDate. Retrieved January 2, 2021.2.
  • Juanpere, S., Cañete, N., Ortuño, P., Martínez, S., Sanchez, G., & Bernado, L. (2013). A diagnostic approach to the mediastinal masses. Insights into imaging, 4(1), 29–52.https://doi.org/10.1007/s13244-012-0201-0

SAEM Clinical Images Series: An Enlarging Scalp Mass

scalp mass

A 27-day-old female infant born at 34 weeks 4 days with a prenatal history of maternal syphilis treated with penicillin presented with an enlarging scalp mass since birth. Since birth, the patient has had a 1 cm erythematous and flat lesion on her scalp. Since that time, the lesion has continued to grow and develop scales. On the day of presentation, the lesion was noted to be 7-8cm in diameter with multiple surrounding smaller lesions. There is some clear to bloody drainage coming from the main lesion. The patient has otherwise been growing and developing normally. No fevers or other sick symptoms. Feeding well. Mom has no concerns with bowel movements or voiding habits.

General: She is active. She is not in acute distress. She is well-developed.

HEENT: No congestion or rhinorrhea. Mucous membranes are moist. No posterior oropharyngeal erythema.

Cardiovascular: Normal rate and regular rhythm. Normal pulses. No murmur heard.

Pulmonary: Respiratory effort is normal. No retractions. Normal breath sounds. No wheezing.

Skin: Skin is warm. Capillary refill takes less than 2 seconds. On the left side of the scalp, there is a large raised keratinized plaque with a stuck-on appearance. Some red blood is noted when tapped with a white sheet. The plaque is firm and non-tender. On the rest of the scalp, there are several peeling flat lesions with hair attached, and intermittent alopecia.

Neurological: No focal deficit present. She is alert. Suck is normal.

Scalp ultrasound: Posteriorly exophytic left parietal lesion is peripherally echogenic, possibly representing a calcified lesion or cephalohematoma. CT or MRI may be useful for further evaluation, as clinically indicated.

a. Seborrheic Dermatitis: A common, self-limiting eruption consisting of erythematous plaques with greasy, yellow-colored scales that distribute to the areas of the body with sebaceous glands.

b. Atopic Dermatitis: Erythematous, scaly, crusted lesions that are poorly demarcated. It is pruritic and commonly involves the cheeks, scalp, and extensor surfaces.

c. Psoriasis: Uncommon in infants, but can mimic seborrheic dermatitis with sharply demarcated, shiny, erythematous plaques with fine silvery scales in non-intertriginous regions.

d. Tinea Capitis: While rare, tinea can present with a scaly scalp rash in infants. There may be a mild to moderate inflammatory reaction associated as well as hair loss.

e. Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH): LCH can present as refractory seborrheic dermatitis. There may also be papules or reddish-brown nodules that appear with the rash.

Pityriasis Amiantacea secondary to Seborrheic Dermatitis with a significant build-up of crust and scale. Pityriasis amiantacea is an exaggerated inflammatory response to regional dermatitis, most often seborrheic dermatitis. Treatment consists of a keratinolytic and antibacterial ointment. In this patient, 1:4 part vinegar and water soaks were recommended twice daily, followed by mupirocin ointment until the resolution of the lesions.

Take-Home Points

  • Seborrheic dermatitis is a commonly presenting rash in infancy.
  • When rashes are refractory to conservative management, additional diagnoses and sequelae need to be considered.

  • Amorim GM, Fernandes NC. Pityriasis amiantacea: a study of seven cases. An Bras Dermatol. 2016 Sep-Oct;91(5):694-696. doi: 10.1590/abd1806-4841.20164951. PMID: 27828657; PMCID: PMC5087242.
  • Olanrewaju O. Falusi; Seborrhea. Pediatr Rev February 2019; 40 (2): 93–95. https://doi.org/10.1542/pir.2017-0215. PMID: 30709979.

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