Autoptic Findings in Cases of Sudden Death Due to Kawasaki Disease

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Kawasaki disease (KD) is the second-most-common childhood vasculitis, and its etiology is still unknown today. Even though the acute illness is usually self-limiting, sometimes, it can generate complications, such as coronary artery aneurysms (CAA), acute myocardial infarction (AMI), heart failure, or arrhythmias, and can rarely cause sudden or unexpected deaths. We present a review of the literature, which collects autoptic and histopathological data relating to many of the cases of these deaths. On the basis of the titles and abstracts, we selected 54 scientific publications for a total of 117 cases. Among them, as expected, the majority of the deaths were due to AMI (41.03%), arrhythmia (8.55%), acute coronary syndrome (8.55%), and CAA rupture (11.97%), involving mostly 20-year-olds or younger individuls (69.23%). This is not surprising since the CAs are the most involved arteries. Gross autoptic and histopathological findings are reported in the paper. Our work revealed that, when compared with the incidence of KD, only a few cases suffered from sudden death, underwent an autoptic examination, and were then described in the literature. We suggest that researchers should perform autopsies to gain a better understanding of the molecular pathways involved in KD so as to propose further innovative therapeutic protocols or implement more appropriate prevention schemes.


Kawasaki disease; histology; postmortem investigation; sudden death.

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