Pulmonary aspergillosis - Clinicals, Diagnosis, and Management

Infectious diseases

Clinicals - History

Fact Explanation
Cough with mucous plugs Inhalation of aspergillus spores produces type 1 hypersensitivity reaction in the bronchial wall. Aspergillosis has two main pathological types: superficial and deep. In superficial variety there is superficial invasion of aspergillus into the bronchial lining producing inflammation. There is productive cough with large amounts of thick green sputum and it might produce thick yellow mucus plugs. Cough with mucous plugs
Inhalation of aspergillus spores produces type 1 hypersensitivity reaction in the bronchial wall. Aspergillosis has two main pathological types: superficial and deep. In superficial variety there is superficial invasion of aspergillus into the bronchial lining producing inflammation. There is productive cough with large amounts of thick green sputum and it might produce thick yellow mucus plugs.
Haemoptysis This is the commonest manifestation of pulmonary aspergilloma. It is also seen in chronic granulomatous disease. Haemoptysis
This is the commonest manifestation of pulmonary aspergilloma. It is also seen in chronic granulomatous disease.
Fever Fever may be low grade, it may be high grade if bronchopneumonia develops. Low grade evening pyrexia may be associated with night sweats in the chronic granulomatous form giving the same picture as in tuberculosis. Fever
Fever may be low grade, it may be high grade if bronchopneumonia develops. Low grade evening pyrexia may be associated with night sweats in the chronic granulomatous form giving the same picture as in tuberculosis.
Shortness of breath There is progressive damage to the lung tissue due to the fibrosis, ultimately ends up with progressive exertional dyspnoea. Shortness of breath
There is progressive damage to the lung tissue due to the fibrosis, ultimately ends up with progressive exertional dyspnoea.
Weight loss Pulmonary aspergillosis result in chronic complications such as chronic necrotizing Aspergillosis pneumonia/ chronic necrotizing pulmonary aspergillosis. These chronic patients present with weight loss. Weight loss
Pulmonary aspergillosis result in chronic complications such as chronic necrotizing Aspergillosis pneumonia/ chronic necrotizing pulmonary aspergillosis. These chronic patients present with weight loss.
History of asthma Increased risk of aspergillosis is present in patients with bronchial asthma. History of asthma
Increased risk of aspergillosis is present in patients with bronchial asthma.
History of immunedefeciency chronic debilitating illness, immunosuppression therapy or advanced age like conditions more vulnerable to get the disseminated disease. History of immunedefeciency
chronic debilitating illness, immunosuppression therapy or advanced age like conditions more vulnerable to get the disseminated disease.
History of exposure to moldy grain Disease is acquired through the inhalation of spores. It is not transmitted from one person to the other. History of exposure to moldy grain
Disease is acquired through the inhalation of spores. It is not transmitted from one person to the other.
History of tuberculosis and lung carcinoma Aspergillosis able to invade the damaged lung tissues easily, Therefore these people are particularly vulnerable. History of tuberculosis and lung carcinoma
Aspergillosis able to invade the damaged lung tissues easily, Therefore these people are particularly vulnerable.

Clinicals - Examination

Fact Explanation
Febrile Temperature may be low grade, but if complicated with lung abscess, pneumonia etc. patients can have high grade fever. Febrile
Temperature may be low grade, but if complicated with lung abscess, pneumonia etc. patients can have high grade fever.
Clubbing Long term fibrosis of the lung can result in bronchiectasis that will cause clubbing of fingers. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis is associated with central bronchiectasis. Clubbing
Long term fibrosis of the lung can result in bronchiectasis that will cause clubbing of fingers. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis is associated with central bronchiectasis.
Pallor Due to the chronic nature of the disease. Pallor
Due to the chronic nature of the disease.
Ankle oedema Cor pulmonale (heart failure due to lung disease) and heart failure due to disseminated disease can present with peripheral oedema. Ankle oedema
Cor pulmonale (heart failure due to lung disease) and heart failure due to disseminated disease can present with peripheral oedema.
Tachepnea, dyspnoea Increased respiratory rate occurs especially with invasive disease. Tachepnea, dyspnoea
Increased respiratory rate occurs especially with invasive disease.
Wheezing Oedematous airway mucosa causes narrowing of the airway producing wheezing. Wheezing
Oedematous airway mucosa causes narrowing of the airway producing wheezing.
Features of lung fibrosis: reduced chest expansion and moments, dull percussion note, increased vocal fremitus, reduced breath sounds In the deep pathological type of aspergillosis, they invade into the lung tissue producing inflammation, fibrosis, necrosis and cavitation. Mainly fibrosis is seen in upper lobes. Features of lung fibrosis: reduced chest expansion and moments, dull percussion note, increased vocal fremitus, reduced breath sounds
In the deep pathological type of aspergillosis, they invade into the lung tissue producing inflammation, fibrosis, necrosis and cavitation. Mainly fibrosis is seen in upper lobes.
Features of bronchopneumonia: reduced chest expansion and moments, dull percussion note on affected area, increased vocal fremitus, reduced breath sounds Bronchopneumonia is a recognized complication of aspergillosis. Features of bronchopneumonia: reduced chest expansion and moments, dull percussion note on affected area, increased vocal fremitus, reduced breath sounds
Bronchopneumonia is a recognized complication of aspergillosis.

Investigations - Diagnosis

Fact Explanation
Eosinophil count Eosinophilia is seen. Sometimes it may be high as 10%. Eosinophil count
Eosinophilia is seen. Sometimes it may be high as 10%.
Serum IgE level Serum IgE level will be elevated and may be > 1000 IU/dL. Serum IgE level
Serum IgE level will be elevated and may be > 1000 IU/dL.
Skin test result for A fumigatus Skin test for Aspergillus fumigatus may be positive. Skin test result for A fumigatus
Skin test for Aspergillus fumigatus may be positive.
Sputum microscopy and culture Fungus may be found. But this has no much clinical significance. Sputum microscopy and culture
Fungus may be found. But this has no much clinical significance.
Bronchoscopy Bronchial secretions may reveal the presence of Aspergillus fumigatus. Bronchial biopsy can be done in advanced cases where it reveals chronic inflammatory cell infiltration. Bronchoscopy
Bronchial secretions may reveal the presence of Aspergillus fumigatus. Bronchial biopsy can be done in advanced cases where it reveals chronic inflammatory cell infiltration.
Mantoux test and microscopy for acid fast bacilli It is important to rule out the tuberculosis in chronic granulomatous disease as both can have the similar clinical features such as low grade evening pyrexia, night sweats, weight loss etc. Mantoux test and microscopy for acid fast bacilli
It is important to rule out the tuberculosis in chronic granulomatous disease as both can have the similar clinical features such as low grade evening pyrexia, night sweats, weight loss etc.
Chest x-ray Increased hilar shadows and web like infiltrations radiating outwards are the commonest manifestations. Thick walled cavitations may be present especially over the upper lobes. There can be solitary dense areas surrounded by radiolucent areas in the upper lobe which is a rare pathognomonic feature. Simple aspergillomas appear as thin walled cysts with little or no surrounding parenchymal
tissue and complex ones as thick walled cavities with pulmonary infiltrates.
Chest x-ray
Increased hilar shadows and web like infiltrations radiating outwards are the commonest manifestations. Thick walled cavitations may be present especially over the upper lobes. There can be solitary dense areas surrounded by radiolucent areas in the upper lobe which is a rare pathognomonic feature. Simple aspergillomas appear as thin walled cysts with little or no surrounding parenchymal
tissue and complex ones as thick walled cavities with pulmonary infiltrates.

Investigations - Management

Fact Explanation
Blood eosinophil count Eosinophilia is seen in allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. Get reduced with the treatment. Blood eosinophil count
Eosinophilia is seen in allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. Get reduced with the treatment.
Chest x-ray Changes may be improving with the treatment. Chest x-ray
Changes may be improving with the treatment.
Haemoglobin Haemoglobin may be low due to the chronic nature of the disease and attacks of haemoptysis. Haemoglobin
Haemoglobin may be low due to the chronic nature of the disease and attacks of haemoptysis.
Saturation of oxygen Will be low in severe disease. due to the hypoxia. Saturation of oxygen
Will be low in severe disease. due to the hypoxia.
Chest x-ray Above mentioned chest radiography in pulmonary aspergillosis may be reversed with the treatment . Chest x-ray
Above mentioned chest radiography in pulmonary aspergillosis may be reversed with the treatment .
Computer tomography (CT scan) CT scanning is helpful for evaluation of bronchiectasis. High-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) will show an irregular, thick-walled cavity in the upper lobes and mass with soft-tissue attenuation within it and thickening of adjacent pleura. Computer tomography (CT scan)
CT scanning is helpful for evaluation of bronchiectasis. High-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) will show an irregular, thick-walled cavity in the upper lobes and mass with soft-tissue attenuation within it and thickening of adjacent pleura.
Neutrophil and lymphocyte count Defects in host defence mechanisms such as severe neutropenia, T cell deficiency favour the development of aspergillosis. Neutrophil and lymphocyte count
Defects in host defence mechanisms such as severe neutropenia, T cell deficiency favour the development of aspergillosis.

Management - Supportive

Fact Explanation
Avoidance of the triggering factor: exposure to moldy air This is an important measure in prevention. Avoidance of the triggering factor: exposure to moldy air
This is an important measure in prevention.
Antipyretics Antipyretics such as paracetamol can be given to control fever. Antipyretics
Antipyretics such as paracetamol can be given to control fever.
Oxygen Oxygen is required in acute situations where the patient has low oxygen saturation. Patients can develop respiratory failure even after surgical resection of aspergilloma. Oxygen
Oxygen is required in acute situations where the patient has low oxygen saturation. Patients can develop respiratory failure even after surgical resection of aspergilloma.
Management of post op complications following lung resection Bleeding, residual pleural space, bronchopleural fistula, and empyema are the common complications that need attention. Management of post op complications following lung resection
Bleeding, residual pleural space, bronchopleural fistula, and empyema are the common complications that need attention.

Management - Specific

Fact Explanation
Corticisteroids These anti inflammatory drugs that are helpful in reducing the amount of sputum, control the asthmatic reactions following exposure and reducing the frequency of pulmonary infiltrates. Corticisteroids
These anti inflammatory drugs that are helpful in reducing the amount of sputum, control the asthmatic reactions following exposure and reducing the frequency of pulmonary infiltrates.
Antifungals Amphotericin B and itraconazole are used and voriconazole, posaconazole and ravuconazole are an alternative to Aspergillus species resistant to amphotericin B. Nystatin is used to treat the secondary infections due to aspergillus such as those with tuberculosis complicated with aspergillosis. May be used as inhalation method or injection into the infected site. eg:- intrapleural injection,intracavitary instillation. Antifungals
Amphotericin B and itraconazole are used and voriconazole, posaconazole and ravuconazole are an alternative to Aspergillus species resistant to amphotericin B. Nystatin is used to treat the secondary infections due to aspergillus such as those with tuberculosis complicated with aspergillosis. May be used as inhalation method or injection into the infected site. eg:- intrapleural injection,intracavitary instillation.
Hydroxystilbamidine Aspergillus fumigatus can be eliminated from the bronchial secretions using hydroxystilbamidine as an inhaled drug. Hydroxystilbamidine
Aspergillus fumigatus can be eliminated from the bronchial secretions using hydroxystilbamidine as an inhaled drug.
Iodide, neoarsphanamine These drugs are used without much therapeutic effect. Iodide, neoarsphanamine
These drugs are used without much therapeutic effect.
Surgical resection Cavitation, solitary dense areas in the lung, aspergilloma and other localized lesions need surgical resection. Management of aspergilloma needs lung resection as it does not improves with the antifungals. Small local thoracotomy may be helpful. Surgical resection
Cavitation, solitary dense areas in the lung, aspergilloma and other localized lesions need surgical resection. Management of aspergilloma needs lung resection as it does not improves with the antifungals. Small local thoracotomy may be helpful.
Cavernostomy If the lung reserve is limited or symptoms are life threatening, cavernostomy is indicated. Cavernostomy
If the lung reserve is limited or symptoms are life threatening, cavernostomy is indicated.

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