Abdominal manifestations of cystic fibrosis in children.
Pulmonary complications remain the main cause of mortality in cystic fibrosis, but the presenting symptoms in children are often related to gastrointestinal or pancreaticobiliary disease. Furthermore, abdominal manifestations are now seen throughout childhood, from infancy to adolescence. The child might present in the neonatal period with meconium ileus or its attendant complications. The older child might present with distal intestinal obstruction syndrome or colonic stricture secondary to high doses of pancreatic enzyme replacement. Less-common gastrointestinal manifestations include intussusception, duodenitis and fecal impaction of the appendix. Most children also show evidence of exocrine pancreatic deficiency. Radiologically, the combination of fat deposition and pancreatic fibrosis leads to varying CT and MR appearances. A higher than normal incidence of pancreatic cysts and calcification is also seen. Decreased transport of water and chloride also increases the viscosity of bile, with subsequent obstruction of the biliary ductules. If extensive, this can progress to obstructive cirrhosis, portal hypertension and esophageal varices. Diffuse fatty infiltration, hypersplenism and gallstones are also commonly seen in these patients. We present a pictorial review of the radiological appearance of these abdominal manifestations. The conditions are dealt with individually, together with typical appearances in various imaging modalities.
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