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Lung disease is a major cause of morbidity in children with sickle cell disease (SCD). Asthma in children with SCD is associated with a twice greater rate of pain and acute chest syndrome (ACS) episodes when compared to children with SCD but without asthma. Provocation challenges with methacholine are used to diagnose asthma when spirometry is normal, bronchodilator reactivity is absent, or the clinical picture is ambiguous. There have been only limited descriptions of use of methacholine challenge in individuals with SCD. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 21 children with SCD and recurrent respiratory tract symptoms who were challenged with methacholine to determine if airway hyper responsiveness (AHR) was present. Fourteen (67%) of the children had a positive challenge. Of the 14 patients, four were given a new diagnosis of asthma based on the presence of chronic chest symptoms and the newly determined AHR and started on inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). In each positive challenge, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV(1)) was reversed to at least 90% of baseline 15 min after bronchodilator treatment. Oxygen saturation decreased in 93% of those with a positive challenge, but returned to baseline values 15 min after bronchodilator treatment. No patient developed a pain or ACS episode within at least 1 month after the challenge. Evaluation of AHR with methacholine challenge in patients with SCD appears to be well tolerated and may elucidate a cause of SCD morbidity.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.