• During a ten-year period, 22 children from our 170 cases of acute epiglottitis had reliable records of arterial blood gas data. The arterial/alveolar (a/A) oxygen tension ratios were calculated, with a value less than 0.75 representing abnormal gas exchange. The mean a/A ratio for the whole group, 17 of whom already had an artificial airway, was 0.59 (range, 0.29 to 0.83). A subgroup of five children with blood samples taken during conservative treatment or before airway insertion had a mean a/A ratio of 0.62 (range, 0.49 to 0.77) without hypercapnia (mean Paco2, 32 mm Hg; range, 29 to 39 mm Hg), which seemed to be a late feature. Thirty-three percent of initial chest roentgenograms were abnormal, with the major disorder being atelectasis and/or consolidation. We propose that the radiologic and gas exchange abnormalities result from the common pathophysiologic mechanism of increased lung water.
(Am J Dis Child 1983;137:139-141)