Ten years' experience of using bronchoalveolar lavage in the treatment of 10 patients with alveolar proteinosis is reported. The diagnosis was often missed. The interval between onset of symptoms and diagnosis varied from six weeks to six years (median 2 years), so that the start of treatment was often delayed. Some patients experienced severe progressive disability before they had treatment. Whole-lung lavage proved to be a safe, repeatable procedure which provided symptomatic, physiological, and radiological improvement and allowed all 10 patients treated to return to full-time employment.
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