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What is Pulmonary Interstitial Emphysema?

What is Pulmonary Interstitial Emphysema?


Most common among very young infants, pulmonary interstitial emphysema (PIE) is the result of a rupture of the alveolar and terminal bronchiolar sections of the lung. That rupture, in turn, is the result of an accumulation of gases inside a person’s connective tissues. [1]




PIE often occurs in conjunction with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) or meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS). Infants with RDS can accumulate fluid in their lungs, which can further prevent the circulation of the accumulated gases and thus speed the progress of the PIE. [2]


Studies of infants admitted to neonatal intensive care units have found 2%-3% of children analyzed have a form of PIE. In the case of prematurely born infants, on an international scale, the PIE percentage is much higher, in the 20 to 30% range. [3]


Infant Mortality Rates


PIE is a very serious cause for concern, especially in developing nations. The mortality rate associated with the disease can be as high as 67%, even as much as 80% if the children have a severely below normal birth weight.  At the same time, another condition, parenchymal disease, can often underpin the PIE and be responsible for some of these dramatic mortality rates. [4]


Another reason for the high PIE death rates among high-frequency, young age sufferers is that there are no specific treatments for the problem. Once air and-or gas leaks and becomes trapped in the tiny air sacs of the lungs, also known as alveoli, these pockets cannot be targeted with chest tubes. Sometimes though, high-frequency ventilation machines are hooked up to babies with PIE, to try to suck out the air from these spaces. [5]


Babies and infants treated with ventilation machines are always carefully watched in intensive care units, as air leaks can still occur or increase even when the air pressure if carefully calibrated.



Resources: 3/12/2013


[1][2] Medscape Reference
Pulmonary Interstitial Emphysema-Overview


[3] Medscape Reference
Pulmonary Interstitial Emphysema-Epidemiology


[4] Medscape Reference
Pulmonary Interstitial Emphysema-Prognosis


[5] University of Rochester Medical Center
High-Risk Newborns: Pneumothorax



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