Swyer James McLeod Syndrome


Swyer James Mcleod's Syndrome is a rare lung disorder found by Physicians Paul Robert Swyer, William Mathiseon Macleod and Radiologist George James in the 1950's in the United States. At the same time J. Bret was exploring this illness in France, and consequently it is sometimes referred to as Brett's syndrome.

Swyer-James syndrome is a manifestation of postinfectious obliterative bronchiolitis. In SJS, the involved lung or portion of the lung does not grow normally and is slightly smaller than the opposite lung. The characteristic radiographic appearance is that of pulmonary hyperlucency, caused by overdistention of the alveoli in conjunction with diminished arterial flow and has been linked to adenovirus type 21.

In appearance Swyer James normally leaves shadowing in a CT scan in the upper lobar regions of one or (rarely) both lungs. Patients with the illness operate in much the same way as patients with mild bronchiectasis. As a result, the illness can go undiagnosed for some time. With current pharmaceutical developments, the prognosis is good for sufferers of the illness to lead normal and healthy lives.


Individuals with Swyer-James syndrome may not have any symptoms, but affected individuals can have chronic or recurring lung infections, shortness of breath (dyspnea) when performing an activity, coughing up of blood (hemoptysis), and even severe respiratory impairment.


The cause of Swyer-James syndrome is not completely understood. Most experts agree that the initial abnormality occurs in the distal bronchi (air tubes that bring air to and from the lungs) after an infection during early childhood. The smaller size of the affected lung may be due to the infection inhibiting the normal growth of the lung.

A number of reports have described Swyer-James syndrome following childhood histories including radiation therapy; measles; pertussis (whooping cough); tuberculosis; breathing in a foreign body; mycoplasma; and viral infections, especially adenovirus. Research has suggested that a hyper-immune reaction in the lung (producing an unusual abundance of antibodies) may play a role in sustaining airway damage after the initial infection.

Some have argued a pre-existing lung abnormality may predispose individuals to the condition. Although bronchial damage of some kind during childhood is generally considered to play an important role, many affected individuals have had no known history of an airway infection. It is possible that some unknown factors present at birth may contribute to the development of Swyer-James syndrome.


Individuals with Swyer-James syndrome reportedly have been treated conservatively in the past. However, although there are few reports published, it has been recognized that surgical treatment should be considered when infections cannot be controlled.

There have been reports of affected individuals being treated with pneumonectomy (removal of a lung), lobectomy (removal of one or more lobes of a lung) or segmentectomy (removal of a specific segment).

It has been proposed that individuals with Swyer-James syndrome may benefit from lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS), a procedure in which damaged tissue is removed from the lung. LVRS was reportedly performed successfully in an individual with Swyer-James syndrome, and it has been suggested that the procedure could be used for managing the condition in other affected individuals because it has shown to be effective for improving pulmonary function and symptoms.