Bronchial artery embolisation in cystic fibrosis patients

Author(s): Dr N Shaida

Hospital: Addenbrooke's Hospital

Reference: RAD Magazine, 40, 473, 23-24


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a recessive genetic disease characterised by impaired mucociliary clearance. Although the disease affects multiple organs, 85% of mortality results from lung pathology relating to persistent recurrent infections, an exaggerated inflammatory response and progressive airways obstruction which ultimately leads to respiratory failure. Haemoptysis is a common symptom of CF with reported rates of up to 9% over a five-year period. The pathophysiology of haemoptysis in CF primarily relates to erosion of newly formed abnormal bronchial arteries which may be thin walled or tortuous in areas of bronchiectasis secondary to chronic infection. These vessels are prone to injury or rupture during acute infective exacerbations leading to haemoptysis.

A further precipitating factor may be coagulopathy secondary to Vitamin K deficiency due to the hepatic effects of CF. Massive haemoptysis (defined as haemoptysis >240ml/day) is seen less commonly in CF patients than recurrent nonmassive haemoptysis, but when present can be a life-threatening condition that requires urgent treatment to prevent death from asphyxiation or exsanguination.

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