BACKGROUND: The efficacy of topical treatment of 12 episodes of severe life threatening haemoptysis from a pulmonary aspergilloma in 11 patients is reviewed. METHODS: A retrospective review was performed on five white and six African-American patients of mean age 49 years. The underlying diseases were bronchiectasis, sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, or histoplasmosis. The patients were prospectively considered poor surgical risks because they had a forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of < 50% predicted and an arterial oxygen tension (PaO2) of < 7.95 kPa breathing room air. As surgical intervention was not possible, local intracavitary instillation of sodium or potassium iodide was performed. Two patients were previously treated with amphotericin B. In one patient sodium iodide alone was used and in the remaining eight potassium iodide alone was instilled. The transcricothyroid approach was used in six patients and the percutaneous approach in five. RESULTS: Haemoptysis ceased within 72 hours in all patients after the instillation of sodium or potassium iodide. There was no morbidity or mortality, and side effects included slight irritation on instillation of the iodide solution and occasional cough which was easily controlled. All patients were alive at least one year later. CONCLUSION: Intracavitary treatment is a viable option in the poor risk patient with life threatening haemoptysis from an aspergilloma.
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