Critically Ill Children With Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis: A Case Series of 14 Patients

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Children with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) are at an increased risk of critical illness. In this study, we described the clinical characteristics of critically ill children with HLH and identify factors associated with poor clinical outcomes. Children who were diagnosed with HLH with emergent admission to Children’s Intensive Care Unit (CICU) between January 1, 2000 and October 31, 2015 were included. The primary outcome was CICU mortality. Over the 15-year period, there were 14 critically ill patients with HLH with 23 CICU admissions. Median age at HLH diagnosis was 8.2 years (interquartile range [IQR], 2.9 to 11.3). Overall CICU mortality was 8 of 23 CICU admissions (34.8%). Factors that were associated with CICU mortality in critically ill children with HLH identified in this study include: a worse median pediatric index of mortality 2 score (4.7% in survivors [IQR, 2.9% to 11.6%] vs. 2.4% [IQR, 1.2% to 4.3%]; P=0.031); higher median peak serum lactate level (mmol/L) within 24 hours of admission (5.6 [IQR, 2.7 to 17.4] vs. 1.6 [IQR, 1.2 to 2.8]; P=0.032); the need for mechanical ventilation (100% vs. 46.7%; P=0.019); inotropic support (87.5% vs. 20.0%; P=0.006); renal replacement therapy (50% vs. 0%; P=0.008); and blood product transfusion episodes (24.5 [IQR, 14.3 to 46.8] vs. 3.0 [IQR, 1.0 to 9.0]; P=0.002). Further studies are required to validate the factors that are associated with poor outcomes in critically ill children with HLH.

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