Plastic Bronchitis

Also known as: fibrinous bronchitis, pseudomembranous bronchitis

What is Plastic Bronchitis?

Plastic bronchitis is a rare breathing disorder that can occur in children. Fluid from the lymphatic system ( which carries lymph fluid to the veins )  accumulates in the airways and hardens, forming plugs known as “casts” ( which contain a material called fibrin ) that block these critical breathing channels

What causes plastic bronchitis? 

Plastic bronchitis can result from a variety of different congenital, medical & surgical conditions. It occurs after some infections, lung diseases, congenital heart disease, congenital abnormalities or injury to the thoracic duct ( the  main lymph vessel ) or very rarely, allergies.

What are the symptoms of plastic bronchitis? 

With blockage of the airways in the lungs, symptoms such as coughing, as well as breathing problems that resemble asthma attacks ( coughing fits ) occur.  During these, the child may cough up casts. Severe cases can cause suffocation.

What are plastic bronchitis care options? 

There appear to be no approved medications to dissolve plastic bronchitis casts though a drug that dissolves fibrin has been tried. Bronchoscopy in which a tube is inserted into the airways has been used to remove casts as well as specialized surgical & other procedures, depending on the underlying cause.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: March 20, 2019 04:04 PM