BACKGROUND: Pulmonary aspergilloma has been treated surgically for many years but the mortality rates of larger surgical series, varying from 7% to 23%, is not considered acceptable by today's standards. The authors report their experience in the surgical treatment of pulmonary aspergilloma and present a review of the literature. METHODS: Sixty seven patients who underwent thoracotomy for pulmonary aspergilloma from 1968 to 1995 were studied retrospectively by reviewing their medical records. RESULTS: The most common clinical presentation of pulmonary aspergilloma was haemoptysis which occurred in 61 patients (91.0%). Tuberculosis was the most common pre-existing disease, occurring in 54 patients (80.6%). The plain chest radiograph showed the typical "air-crescent" sign in 36 patients (53.7%). Systemic antifungal therapy neither palliated the clinical symptoms nor eradicated the aspergilloma, and transarterial embolisation was also unsuccessful. Surgery offered the only chance of cure for both unilateral and bilateral disease. Procedures varied from segmentectomy to pneumonectomy with most (61.4%) undergoing lobectomy. There was one death following surgery from pneumonia and 15 postoperative complications occurred in 12 patients-empyema (7), massive bleeding (3), bronchopleural fistula (2), wound infection (2), and Horner's syndrome (1). Postoperatively, most of the patients were symptom-free. CONCLUSIONS: With appropriate preoperative evaluation and judicious surgical technique, surgery is the preferred treatment for pulmonary aspergilloma, both for eradicating the tumour and for curing the underlying disease.
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