Chronic Cavitary and Fibrosing Pulmonary and Pleural Aspergillosis: Case Series, Proposed Nomenclature Change, and Review

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We describe 18 nonimmunocompromised patients with chronic pulmonary aspergillosis. Duration of the disease ranged from several months to >12 years. All 18 patients had prior pulmonary disease. Weight loss, chronic cough (often with hemoptysis and shortness of breath), fatigue, and chest pain were the most common symptoms. All 18 patients had cavities, usually multiple and in 1 or both upper lobes of the lung, that expanded over time, with or without intraluminal fungal balls. All had detectable Aspergillus precipitins and inflammatory markers. Elevated levels of total immunoglobulin E were seen in 78% of patients and of Aspergillus -specific immunoglobulin E in 64%. Directed lung biopsies showed chronic inflammation, necrosis, or granulomas without hyphal invasion. Antifungal therapy with itraconazole resulted in 71% of patients improved or stabilized, with relapse common. Interferon-γ treatment was useful in 3 patients. In azole nonresponders, modest responses to intravenous amphotericin B (80%) followed by itraconazole were seen. Surgery removed disease but postoperative pleural aspergillosis was inevitable. Indicators of good long-term medical outcomes were mild symptoms, thin-walled quiescent cavities, residual pleural fibrosis, and normal inflammatory markers.

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