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Role of bronchoalveolar lavage in immunocompromised patients with pneumonia treated with a broad spectrum antibiotic and antifungal regimen


BACKGROUND In a retrospective study the value of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) in the diagnosis of pneumonia was investigated in 95 immunocompromised patients suffering from haematological disorders and receiving a regimen of broad spectrum antibiotics and antifungal agents (BSAR).

METHODS With the exception of four afebrile patients, all had fever, raised C reactive protein (CRP) levels, and new infiltrates visible on chest radiography. All patients underwent BAL to identify the organism causing the pneumonia and surveillance cultures were performed regularly for pathogens at different sites. Following classification of the isolates, patients with positive cultures were subdivided into two groups, pathogenic or contaminated. We investigated whether relevant pathogens were cultured only from the BAL fluid and whether they were susceptible to BSAR.

RESULTS Although 77 of the 95 patients were thrombocytopenic, bleeding during BAL occurred in only 15% of all patients. Ten days after the procedure the fever improved in 88% of patients, radiographic findings improved in 71%, and CRP levels improved in 75% of patients; 22% of patients died within 28 days. Pathologically relevant isolates were found in 65% of all patients. Respiratory pathogens were detected only in the BAL fluid of 29 of the 95 patients (35% Gram positive species, 40% Gram negative species, 11% Mycobacterium, 11% fungi, and 3% cytomegalovirus). In 16 of these 29 patients (55%) the pathogens cultured only from the BAL fluid were resistant to treatment. Pathogens detected only in the BAL fluid were not susceptible to a standard broad spectrum antibiotic and antifungal regimen including teicoplanin, ceftriaxon, tobramycin, and amphotericin B in 12 of the 29 patients (41%).

CONCLUSIONS Our data suggest that 12 patients were treated with broad spectrum antimicrobial agents which were not directed at the appropriate organism on in vitro sensitivity tests without BAL. BAL is a relatively safe procedure in the diagnosis of pneumonia, supplying important information in immunocompromised patients as well as in immunocompromised patients receiving BSAR.

  • bronchoalveolar   lavage
  • pneumonia
  • immunosuppression

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