The management of asymptomatic congenital lung malformations
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Congenital Pulmonary Airway Malformation (CPAM) and lung sequestration are often discovered on routine prenatal sonography. While some lesions may be large and cause serious complications in the fetus or newborn, many will be asymptomatic at birth. Some authors advocate simple observation because of the lack of data on the incidence of long-term complications. However, there are very few described cases where CPAM and intralobar sequestration (ILS) have remained asymptomatic throughout life; complications eventually develop in virtually all patients. The most common complication is pneumonia, which may respond poorly to medical treatment. Other complications include the development of malignancies (carcinomas and pleuropulmonary blastomas), pneumothorax and hemoptysis or hemothorax. Since lung resection will be required sooner or later for CPAM and ILS, it is best not to wait for complications to occur. We recommend surgery at 3 to 6 months of life at the latest, to allow compensatory lung growth to occur. At this age the postoperative course is usually smooth and long-term follow- up has shown normal respiratory function. The management of small non- communicating extralobar sequestrations is more controversial; it is known that these can remain asymptomatic throughout life but complications may develop and they are sometimes difficult to differentiate from neuroblastoma.
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