Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis-mimicking Tuberculosis

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Background. Pulmonary tuberculosis is occasionally confused with invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA) in transplant recipients, since clinical suspicion and early diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis and IPA rely heavily on imaging modes such as computed tomography (CT). We therefore investigated IPA-mimicking tuberculosis in transplant recipients.Methods. All adult transplant recipients who developed tuberculosis or IPA at a tertiary hospital in an intermediate tuberculosis-burden country during a 6-year period were enrolled. First, we tested whether experienced radiologists could differentiate pulmonary tuberculosis from IPA. Second, we determined which radiologic findings could help us differentiate them.Results. During the study period, 28 transplant recipients developed pulmonary tuberculosis after transplantation, and 80 patients developed IPA after transplantation. Two experienced radiologists scored blindly 28 tuberculosis and 50 randomly selected IPA cases. The sensitivities of radiologists A and B for IPA were 78% and 68%, respectively (poor agreement, kappa value = 0.25). The sensitivities of radiologists A and B for tuberculosis were 64% and 61%, respectively (excellent agreement, kappa value = 0.77). We then compared the CT findings of the 28 patients with tuberculosis and 80 patients with IPA. Infarct-shaped consolidations and smooth bronchial wall thickening were more frequent in IPA, and mass-shaped consolidations and centrilobular nodules (<10 mm, clustered) were more frequent in tuberculosis.Conclusions. Certain CT findings appear to be helpful in differentiating between IPA and tuberculosis. Nevertheless, the CT findings of about one-third of pulmonary tuberculosis cases in transplant recipients are very close to those of IPA.

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