Upper airway considerations in hereditary angioedema

Efimia Papadopoulou-Alataki
Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology 2010, 10 (1): 20-5

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The purpose of the present review is to outline the clinical aspects and management of the upper airway involvement in the patients suffering from hereditary angioedema.

RECENT FINDINGS: Molecular mechanisms of hereditary angioedema reviewed in the literature conclude that it is an autosomal dominant disorder, characterized by the deficiency of C1 inhibitor due to mutations of its gene (SERPING). Hereditary angioedema manifests as episodes of localized swelling in any site of the body from skin, gastrointestinal tract to the upper airway, where it is severe and life-threatening. The age of onset, frequency of attacks and the factors triggering upper airway swelling in hereditary angioedema are variable among different patients. Acute laryngeal edema should be managed in emergency with monitoring of airway patency. To avoid airway obstruction, therapy should begin early either with current treatment (C1 inhibitor concentrate) or with new drugs developed recently. In patients with recurrent upper airway swelling attacks, long-term prophylaxis is recommended.

CONCLUSION: The use of old and new treatment in acute attacks as well as in prophylaxis (long and short-term) has changed the outcome of patients with hereditary angioedema who present upper airway swelling.

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