Pulmonary arterial medial smooth muscle thickness in sudden infant death syndrome: an analysis of subsets of 73 cases

Elisabeth Haas; Catherine Hampton; Amy Chadwick; Christina Stanley; Claire Langston
December 2009
Forensic Science, Medicine & Pathology;Dec2009, Vol. 5 Issue 4, p261
Academic Journal
Abstract  Previous studies addressing pulmonary artery morphology have compared cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) to controls but none have compared demographic profiles, exposure to potentially hypoxic risk factors and other pathologic variables in SIDS cases grouped according to pulmonary artery medial smooth muscle thickness. Aims: To compare the relative medial thickness (RMT) in alveolar wall arteries (AW) in SIDS cases with that in age-matched controls and 2. Compare demographic, clinical, and pathologic characteristics among three subsets of SIDS cases based upon alveolar wall (AW) RMT. Retrospective morphometric planimetry of all muscularized arteries in standardized right apical lung sections in 73 SIDS cases divided into three groups based on increasing AW RMT as well as 19 controls age-matched to 19 of the SIDS cases. SIDS and age-matched control cases did not differ with respect to AW RMT or other demographic variables. The SIDS group with the thickest AW RMT had significantly more males and premature birth than the other groups, but the groups did not differ for known clinical risk factors that would potentially expose them to hypoxia. Pathologic variables, including pulmonary inflammation, gastric aspiration, intra-alveolar siderophages, cardiac valve circumferences, and heart and liver weights, were not different between groups. Age was not significantly correlated with RMT of alveolar wall and pre-acinar arteries but was significant at p = .018 for small intra-acinar arteries. The groups were different for RMT of small pre-acinar and intra-acinar arteries, which increased with increasing AW RMT. Statistical differences should not necessarily be equated with clinical importance, however future research incorporating more quantified historical data is recommended.


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