Various non-invasive investigations were carried out in patients infected with HIV who had respiratory symptoms with and without pneumocystis pneumonia (with pneumonia, n = 13 (five smokers); without pneumonia, n = 22 (13 smokers]. These included chest radiography; lung function tests (forced expiratory volume in one second, forced vital capacity; transfer factor and coefficient for carbon monoxide); arterial blood gas tensions; arterial oxygen saturation at rest and on exercise; and lung clearance of diethylenetriaminepenta-acetic acid labelled with technetium-99m (99mTc DTPA). The effect of scan time (seven v 45 minutes from peak counts) and subtraction of background counts were examined. There were no significant differences between the two groups in lung function tests or arterial blood gas tensions at rest. The median clearance half time of inhaled 99mTc DTPA for the first seven minutes from peak counts was 7.2 minutes for patients with pneumocystis pneumonia and 22 minutes for those without. The median arterial oxygen desaturation on exercise was 5% in patients with pneumocystis pneumonia and 2% in those without. 99mTc DTPA lung clearance was better than the other non-invasive tests in discriminating pneumocystis pneumonia from other pulmonary disorders in patients positive for HIV. A short scan time of seven minutes was as sensitive and specific as the longer scan time of 45 minutes, and this allows the clearance of 99mTc DTPA to become a rapid screening test.
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