Kawasaki disease is the second most common vasculitis in childhood (the most common being IgA vasculitis).
Presents with an acute self-limiting febrile illness usually in young children, and is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children ages under 5 years in the developed world.
Classic features include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, lymphadenopathy, changes to the lips or oral mucosal, and peripheries, with initial swelling and erythema followed by desquamation in the second week.
The most serious sequelae is coronary artery aneurysm, affecting 20% to 25% of untreated patients and 19% of treated patients in the UK, with even higher coronary artery aneurysm complication rates in those ages under 1 year.
Current standard treatment includes intravenous immune globulin (IVIG), alongside aspirin. There remains clinical equipoise if up-front corticosteroids reduce coronary artery aneurysms in unselected cases, but they are usually added for high-risk cases as well as patients with Kawasaki shock syndrome.
In IVIG-resistant cases, other medications which may be of benefit include high-dose pulsed intravenous methylprednisolone, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha inhibitors (e.g., infliximab), interleukin (IL)-1 inhibitors, (e.g., anakinra), or cyclosporine.
Kawasaki disease (KD) is an acute, febrile, self-limiting, systemic vasculitis, the exact etiology of which is not fully understood that almost exclusively affects young children. In an immunogenetically predisposed host, an environmental trigger, including infectious agents, results in an aberrant inflammatory host response leading to the clinical manifestations. Clinically, it is characterized by fever, polymorphic rash, conjunctivitis, mucosal erythema with strawberry tongue, erythema and swelling of the hands and feet, and unilateral cervical lymphadenopathy. The most serious complication is the development of coronary artery aneurysms, which account for significant morbidity and mortality and affect 20% to 25% of untreated patients. KD is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children ages under 5 years in the US and other developed countries.
History and exam
Key diagnostic factors
- polymorphous rash
- conjunctival injection
- skin changes in the peripheral extremities
- enlarged cervical lymph nodes
- coronary artery aneurysms
- fever and extreme irritability
Other diagnostic factors
- pericarditis with effusion
- congestive heart failure
- joint pain or edema
- neurologic manifestations
- gastrointestinal manifestations
- urologic manifestations
- other dermatologic manifestations
- Asian ancestry
- age 3 months to 4 years
- male sex
1st investigations to order
- erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
Investigations to consider
- serum LFTs
- chest x-ray
- ultrasonography of the gallbladder
- ultrasonography of the testes
- lumbar puncture
- magnetic resonance angiography
- cardiac catheterization and angiography
- natriuretic peptide tests
presentation ≤10 days from onset; or presentation >10 days from onset with evidence of ongoing inflammation
presentation >10 days from onset without evidence of ongoing inflammation
after initial episode: Z score always <2; no involvement at any time
after initial episode: Z score ≥2.0 to <2.5; dilation only
after initial episode: Z score ≥2.5 to <5.0; small aneurysm
after initial episode: Z score ≥5 to <10 (with absolute luminal dimension <8 mm); medium aneurysm
after initial episode: Z score ≥10 or absolute luminal diameter ≥8 mm; large or giant aneurysm
- Staphylococcal or streptococcal infection
- Systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (systemic JIA)
- Scarlet fever
- Guideline for the management of Kawasaki disease
- European consensus-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of Kawasaki disease - the SHARE initiative
- Log in or subscribe to access all of BMJ Best Practice
Use of this content is subject to our disclaimer