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Reclaiming the name ‘bronchiectasis’
  1. James D Chalmers1,
  2. J Stuart Elborn2
  1. 1College of Medicine, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK
  2. 2Centre for Infection and Immunity, Queens University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr James D Chalmers, College of Medicine, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 9SY, UK;jchalmers{at}

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The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name — Confucius, The Analects of Confucius

Diseases should be defined by what they are, not by what they are not. The way we classify and name things has a significant impact on our behaviour and on our perception of their importance.1 Here we argue that clinicians and researchers should stop using the term ‘non-cystic fibrosis’ bronchiectasis to describe this common and disabling disease.

Diseases are classified by putting patients into groups based on similarities so that we can better understand natural history, epidemiology and treatment. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) provides a common language for reporting and monitoring diseases. This allows clinicians and researchers to compare and share data in a consistent and standard way—between hospitals, regions and countries and over periods of time. It facilitates the collection and storage of data for analysis and evidence-based decision-making.2 Bronchiectasis is a recognised code in ICD-10, J47.

Bronchiectasis is a pathological description of abnormal, usually permanent dilation of the bronchi which may be a feature of a wide range of clinical disorders. These include severe infections (including bacteria, viral and fungal diseases), immune deficiencies, autoimmune disorders, channelopathies, ciliary disorders and hypersensitivity reactions. Despite the heterogeneity in aetiology, 50%–70% of adults are typically classified as idiopathic and postinfective.2 ,3

Data on the epidemiology of bronchiectasis show a progressive increase in reported morbidity. Hospitalisations are increasing in the USA at a rate of 2%–3% per year, and in Europe, data show an average increase in age-adjusted incidence of 2.9% per year in Germany, …

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  • Contributors Both authors contributed to writing and revising this opinion article.

  • Funding The European Bronchiectasis Network (EMBARC) and the UK Bronchiectasis registry (BRONCH-UK).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.