BACKGROUND--Pulmonary disease is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality in patients with HIV infection and AIDS. The aim of this study was to describe bronchoscopic findings and the spectrum of pulmonary pathogens in HIV seropositive patients undergoing investigation of respiratory disease over a 10 year period in a major UK referral centre. METHODS--Recruitment was procedure based with data being captured when bronchoscopy was clinically indicated. Data were evaluated from 580 HIV seropositive patients (559 men, age 13-65 years) over a 10 year period from June 1983 to March 1993. RESULTS--A total of 947 bronchoscopies was performed. The most frequent pulmonary pathogen isolated from bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid in 44% of all bronchoscopies was Pneumocystis carinii. Of all patients studied, 324 (55%) had at least one cytologically confirmed episode of P carinii pneumonia; this was AIDS defining in 219 (38%) of patients who underwent bronchoscopy. Between 1987 and 1993 the overall diagnostic yield from BAL fluid was 76%; 25% of all bronchoscopies yielded positive microbiological results, the most frequent isolates being Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Pseudomonas spp, and Haemophilus influenzae. Mycobacteria were identified in 8% of patients; M tuberculosis was the most common being identified in 3% of lavage samples and in 4% of patients. No drug-resistant M tuberculosis was found. Viral isolates (mainly cytomegalovirus) were identified in up to 31% of BAL fluid samples. Endobronchial Kaposi's sarcoma was seen in 15% of patients at bronchoscopy. CONCLUSIONS--Of the 1956 newly diagnosed HIV seropositive patients receiving clinical care at St Mary's Hospital over this period, approximately 30% underwent bronchoscopy. Diagnostic rates for P carinii pneumonia, endobronchial Kaposi's sarcoma, and bacterial and mycobacterial infection have remained largely constant since 1989. Bronchoalveolar lavage produces high diagnostic yields generally, and P carinii pneumonia remains a common cause of pulmonary disease in these patients.
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