BACKGROUND: Ultrasound is useful for locating thoracic lesions and guiding biopsy procedures. The use of sonographic appearances and ultrasound guided needle aspiration has led to the diagnosis of pulmonary cryptococcosis at this hospital. METHODS: Six hundred and eight patients who had ultrasound guided lung aspirations were reviewed retrospectively and nine with documented pulmonary cryptococcosis were collected. All patients had nodules or infiltrates on the chest radiograph. The needle aspirates obtained under ultrasound guidance were stained by Riu's or Papanicolaou's method or with India ink, and six were sent for culture. Five patients also underwent bronchoscopy and biopsy. RESULTS: The nine patients had 18 pulmonary lesions, of which 15 were nodules and three infiltrates. Fifteen lesions were detectable by ultrasound, which showed the nodules to be hypoechoic with eccentrically located air echoes. In eight of the nine cases cryptococci were detected after the lung aspirates had been stained with Riu's or Papanicolaou stain or with India ink. In five of the six aspirates sent for fungal culture Cryptococcus neoformans was isolated. The diagnostic yield was higher than that of bronchoscopy. None developed post-aspiration pneumothorax or any evidence of late dissemination. CONCLUSIONS: Because they tend to be subpleural pulmonary cryptococcal lesions seem to be identifiable by ultrasound. Ultrasound guided lung aspiration is an effective, rapid, and safe method for diagnosis.
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