Management of sequelae of Kawasaki disease in adults


  • John B Gordon San Diego Cardiac Center and Sharp Memorial Hospital, San Diego, CA, USA
  • Jane C Burns Dept of Pediatrics, University of California San Diego, and Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego, CA, USA



Background: A growing population of young adults is presenting to cardiologists with late manifestations of Kawasaki disease (KD) that include cardiomyopathy, ischemia, and infarction. The management of these conditions differs in important ways from atherosclerotic heart disease, and yet there is little awareness in the adult cardiology community regarding the special challenges posed by the cardiovascular sequelae of KD.

Methods: Observations were made on a population of 140 adult KD patients enrolled in the San Diego Adult KD Collaborative Study.

Results: Coronary artery aneurysms resulting from KD in childhood are associated with a high risk of thrombosis and stenosis at the inlet or outlet of the aneurysm. These aneurysms are often highly calcified and may contain a large thrombus burden that may obscure the true size of the aneurysm. Pitfalls in the management of these patients stem largely from failure to recognize the nature of the lesions, which leads to attempts to dilate highly calcified stenotic segments and undersizing of stents. Intravascular ultrasound is helpful in appreciating the true dimensions of the aneurysm, which may be filled with thrombus. Thrombolysis and use of anti-platelet agents followed by systemic anti-coagulation are appropriate management strategies for patients presenting with acute infarction. Bypass grafting with the internal thoracic arteries can be a successful strategy, but care must be taken to avoid competitive flow through the native vessel leading to graft failure. In contrast to the individuals who developed coronary artery aneurysms, young adults who had documented normal echocardiograms associated with their acute KD in childhood and who have no evidence of calcium deposition in the arterial wall as assessed by computed tomography (CT) calcium score appear to have no increased cardiovascular risk in the medium term. Long-term outcomes for adults post-KD in childhood are still being defined.

Conclusions: KD poses special management challenges for the adult cardiologist who must recognize the unique features of the cardiovascular lesions in this growing population of patients. 






Review articles