Steroid-induced resolution of refractory pulmonary interstitial emphysema

Pulmonary interstitial emphysema (PIE) is a familiar complication of mechanical ventilation in premature infants. Its most severe form, marked by life-threatening respiratory and cardiovascular compromise, is a particularly vexing problem in neonatology. Treatment modalities rely on decubitus positioning and reduction of mean airway pressure, but refractory PIE is unresponsive to these maneuvers. Other options such as selective unilateral bronchial intubation, balloon catheter bronchial occlusion, selective lung volume reduction, and mechanical decompression each have clear limitations. In a patient with refractory, life-threatening PIE too unstable for other therapeutic modalities, we describe success with steroid therapy at a familiar dosing regimen.

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