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Clinical experience of lymphangioleiomyomatosis in the UK


BACKGROUND Lymphangioleiomyomatosis is a rare lung disease that affects only women. No controlled trials of management have been performed and, until such data are available, management must be based on clinical experience. This study provides data on the natural history of lymphangioleiomyomatosis in the UK and compares this with experience from other centres.

METHODS We tried to identify all cases of lymphangioleiomyomatosis in the UK over a five year period by contacting all chest physicians. Cases were confirmed by lung biopsy or history and high resolution computed tomographic (CT) scanning. Details of disease and management were obtained from hospital notes.

RESULTS The 50 patients who fitted the diagnostic criteria for lymphangioleiomyomatosis had a median age at onset of 35 years (range 22–50). Five presented when postmenopausal (four taking hormone replacement therapy). Pneumothorax and dyspnoea were the most common presenting features. Extrapulmonary presentations included renal angiomyolipomas (3) and lymphangiomyomas (2). Only half the patients were assessed for renal angiomyolipoma and six were identified. Thirty patients had had one or more pneumothoraces, of which two thirds recurred if treated conservatively. Chylous effusions occurred in 11 patients, five requiring surgery. Pregnancy was uncommon once the diagnosis was made (n=7), but was associated with an increase in complications. Half the patients were taking a β agonist and many showed a bronchodilator response in the laboratory. Thirty six patients had received hormone treatment.

CONCLUSIONS Our UK five year period prevalence was one per 1.1 million population. Since prophylactic interventions are sometimes indicated for renal angiomyolipoma, these data suggest that screening for angiomyolipoma, ideally by CT scanning, may be underused. Patients need to be aware of the increase in complications associated with pregnancy. Recurrence rate of pneumothorax was high in those not treated surgically. Hormone treatment was used variably and controlled trials are needed to determine their role and the optimum duration and dose.

  • lymphangioleiomyomatosis
  • angiomyolipoma
  • pneumothorax
  • chylous effusion
  • management

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