Febrile neutropenia is common in children with leukemia. Mucous membrane and skin are most common portals of entry for microorganisms in these patients. The aim of the present study was to find the prevalence of mucocutaneous findings in febrile neutropenic leukemic children. The authors prospectively examined children with fever with neutropenia in acute leukemia, aged 1-15 years, who were admitted to the Department of Pediatrics, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, between September 2000 and August 2001.
During the study period, 46 children had 116 admissions, 51 of which were due to febrile neutropenia. Their cancer diagnoses were ALL (76%) and ANLL (24%). The prevalence of mucocutaneous findings was 86% (61% were from infections, 22% from mucositis and 4% from chemical phlebitis). Other detected sites of infection were lower respiratory tract (36%), urinary tract (32%), upper respiratory tract (11%), septicemia (11%) and unidentified (35%). Thirty-four percent of the patients had more than one site of infection. Gram-negative septicemia was the most common infection (15cases/71%) followed by gram positive (4cases/19%) and candida (2cases/10%). The prevalence of infection was found in severe neutropenia (absolute neutrophil count, ANC less than 500 cell/cu mm), moderate neutropenia (ANC, 500-1000 cell/cu mm) and mild neutropenia (ANC, 1001-1500 cell/cu mm) was 72%, 9% and 5%, respectively. Infection in patients in the severe neutro-penia group was significantly more common than in moderate mild neutropenia groups (p < 0.01). Seven patients (15%) died, all of them had severe and prolonged neutropenia, for more than 7 days. Daily physical examination of skin and mucous membrane are suggested for proper and prompt diagnosis and treatment of febrile neutropenic children with acute leukemia to reduce mortality and morbidity in these patients. A Guideline for the use of antimicrobial agents in neutropenic patients with acute leukemia is proposed.
In conclusion, infection was commonly found in severe neutropenia. Mucocutaneous infection was the most common site of infection in febrile neutropenia in children with leukemia.
Keyword : Mucocutaneous findings, Febrile neutropenia, Acute lymphoblastic leukemic, Mucositis