Intestinal lymphangiectasia (IL) may vary widely in its manifestations and severity. Fifteen children seen between 1960 and 1974 with histologically proven IL are analyzed by clinical, laboratory, radiologic, and histologic criteria. Remissions occurred in most patients and none died. Exacerbations occurred in five children.
Diarrhea was present in 14 patients and in 13 appeared before the age of 3 years. Vomiting occurred in nine patients and growth retardation in seven. Four children had associated peripheral lymphedema and two of these had a family history of lymphedema, both had affected fathers and one had affected siblings and paternal cousins. Seven had hypoproteinemic edema, and, of these, four suffered from hypocalcemic seizures. Chylous effusions were present in five. Hypoproteinemia was present in 12 although five had no hypoalbuminemic edema. Six had lymphopenia which was related to the severity of the disease and was the last abnormality to disappear after clinical remission. Lymphopenia may first appear years after the protein loss begins. Upper gastrointestinal tract series were performed in 13 children and had diagnostic supportive value in seven. Six children had two or more small-intestinal biopsies done. They all showed great variation from one examination to the other, ranging from a normal appearance to severe changes.
Lymphatic block may occur at different sites-in the lamina propria only, generalized (lamina propria, submucosa, serosa, and mesentery), or conversely in the mesentery alone with minimal changes in the lamina propria. In three patients intravenous hyperalimentation was necessary.
Specific treatment with a high-protein, low-fat diet with added medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) is valuable. Surgical resection was of benefit in one patient, and anastomosis of mesenteric to para-aortic lymph nodes in another.
- Received June 24, 1974.
- Accepted October 15, 1974.
- Copyright © 1975 by the American Academy of Pediatrics