Chronic Cavitary Infections Other than Tuberculosis: Clinical Aspects

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Abstract

Lung cavitation may be due to infectious or noninfectious pathologic processes. The latter category includes nonmalignant conditions, such as granulomatosis with polyangiitis, and malignant conditions, such as squamous cell carcinoma of the lung. Infectious etiologies that produce lung cavitation usually cause chronic illness, although some, particularly pyogenic bacteria, may produce acute cavitary disease. Tuberculosis is the most common cause of chronic pulmonary infection with cavitation. The goal of this review was to highlight a selection of the better-known infectious agents, other than tuberculosis, that can cause chronic lung disease with cavitation. Emphasis is placed on the following organisms: nontuberculous mycobacteria, Histoplasma, Blastomyces, Coccidioides, Paracoccidioides, Aspergillus, Burkholderia pseudomallei, Paragonimus westermani, and Rhodococcus equi. These organisms generally produce clinical features and radiologic findings that overlap or mimic those of tuberculosis. In a companion article, we have further emphasized aspects of the same conditions that are more pertinent to radiologists.

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