Glucocorticoid treatment of suspected organizing pneumonia after H7N9 infection: A case report

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Rationale:H7N9 infection causes acute respiratory distress syndrome with high mortality. The use of glucocorticoids in the acute phase lessened inflammatory responses. Some case reports suggested that secondary organizing pneumonia (SOP) could occur at the recovery stage of the influenza virus infection, and the treatment with glucocorticoid was effective. However, the reports of organizing pneumonia after H7N9 infection are lacking. This study reported a patient with H7N9 virus infection who presented a suspected SOP during the recovery stage.Patient concern:A 68-year-old woman who was diagnosed with H7N9 viral pneumonia. After standard antiviral treatment, venous-venous extracorporeal membranous oxygenation (VV-ECMO) and other supportive treatment, the antigen in the alveolar lavage fluid turned negative, and the shadow in the lung was partially absorbed. However, the imaging manifestations were deteriorated at 3 weeks after disease onset, presented as exudation and consolidation shadow distributed under the pleura and along the bronchial vascular bundles. The oxygenation could not be improved. Repeated sputum, alveolar lavage fluid, and blood pathogen examinations showed negative results. Broad-spectrum anti-infective treatment was ineffective. However, the autoantibodies (ANA, anti-SSA/Ro60, anti-SSA/Ro52) were detected.Diagnosis:SOP was considered.Interventions:Glucocorticoid treatment begun at week 4 from the disease onset. The regimen was methylprednisolone at an initial dose of 40 mg twice a day for 1 week, tapering within 70 days until total withdrawal.Outcomes:The oxygenation was rapidly improved after initiation of methylprednisolone. The shadow in the lung gradually resolved, and the patient was discharged after improvement of the disease condition. The clinical disease course, imaging findings, and treatment effects in the previous cases of SOP after influenza virus infection were similar to those in this case, suggesting the occurrence of SOP after H7N9 virus infection.Lessons:Organizing pneumonia might occur during the recovery stage of influenza virus infection. When the clinical symptoms do not improve and the shadow in the lung shows no obvious absorption after elimination of the H7N9 influenza virus, or the clinical symptoms are aggravated again after improvement, the probability of transforming into the organizing pneumonia should be taken into consideration.

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