COVID-19 Update:Learn more about how we are protecting our patients, families and staff, as well as other important facts about COVID-19.
Kawasaki Disease Program
The Children’s National Kawasaki Disease Program treats children who are newly diagnosed with Kawasaki disease as well as children who have developed coronary artery aneurysms as a result of having Kawasaki disease.
Kawasaki disease is a condition that causes inflammation in a child’s body and blood vessels in multiple organs, including the coronary artery in the heart.
If your child is experiencing high fever, swollen limbs, peeling skin, red eyes and swollen reddish tongue, we recommend that your child receives treatment as soon as possible to avoid the development of coronary artery aneurysms.
Coronary artery aneurysms are abnormal dilatations of blood vessels in the heart which, if they get clogged, can cause damage to the heart muscle or a heart attack.
Choosing Children’s National for Kawasaki Disease Care
- Expertise. Our program is led by internationally recognized Kawasaki disease expert Ashraf Harahsheh, M.D. Dr. Harhahsheh is co-lead of the American College of Cardiology Adult Congenital & Pediatric Cardiology Quality Network’s Kawasaki Disease Quality Improvements Maintenance of Certification. He also serves on the steering committee of the International Kawasaki Disease Registry (IKDR).
- Continuum of care. At Children’s National, we ensure a smooth transition for our patients from pediatric cardiology to our adult congenital cardiology team since Kawasaki disease with aneurysms during childhood can lead to coronary events in adulthood. Seiji Ito, M.D., is an adult congenital cardiologist with a special interest in Kawasaki disease and serves as an expert contact for adult facilities across the region that need assistance managing adult patients with coronary complications.
- Innovative research. In addition to participating in IDKR, our program is involved in maintaining a local Kawasaki disease registry to aid in the development of algorithms on how to diagnose and treat typical Kawasaki disease or coronary artery aneurysms. Our widespread involvement in Kawasaki disease research helps us develop precise treatment plans for our patients and moves Kawasaki disease research forward.
Currently, there is no specific test to diagnose Kawasaki disease. Our experts will rule out other diseases with similar signs and symptoms, such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) by reviewing your child’s history, performing an examination and checking basic labs.
Some of the tests we may perform to help with pinpointing a diagnosis, include:
- Blood test. We will test your child's blood to rule out other diseases and conditions. Anemia, inflammation and high white blood cell count may suggest Kawasaki disease.
- Echocardiogram. This test uses sound waves to create images of your child’s heart. This is commonly used to show how well your child’s heart is working and identify issues with their coronary arteries.
- Electrocardiogram. During this test, electrodes are attached to your child’s skin to measure the electric impulses of their heartbeat. Heart rhythm problems may occur in children with Kawasaki disease.
If your child is diagnosed with Kawasaki disease, we will treat your child using these standard therapy methods:
- Aspirin. Aspirin helps treat your child’s inflammation and prevents clots from forming in the coronary artery. Aspirin can also decrease pain, joint inflammation and fever.
- Intravenous immune globulin (IVIG). We will infuse the immune protein (gamma globulin) through your child’s vein which can lower the risk of developing coronary artery problems. This helps to reduce inflammation in your child.
In most cases, your child will improve after IVIG therapy, and your child’s fever will go away. If your child is resistant to IVIG therapy, they may require more advanced therapy.
Once your child is discharged from the hospital, we strongly suggest that your child visit a cardiologist one to two weeks after discharge and then six weeks after discharge.
If your child has developed a coronary artery aneurysm, we will treat your child with:
- Infliximab. This monoclonal antibody works to enhance your child's immune system.
- Steroids. This helps to reduce inflammation in your child's body, suppress their immune system and relieve their symptoms.
If your child has a coronary artery aneurysm, they will need serial echocardiograms, sometimes for several years after the illness. Your child may need more treatment, including blood thinners to prevent clots. It's important to keep follow-up visits with your child's health care provider, even if your child is feeling well.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with our Kawasaki Disease Program, please call 202-476-2090.
Kawasaki Disease Program Team