Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis: A rare cause of pleural effusion


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Abstract

Aspergillus fumigatus is one of the most ubiquitous of the airborne saprophytic fungi. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) is a syndrome seen in patients with asthma and cystic fibrosis, and is characterized by hypersensitivity to chronic colonization of the airways with A. fumigatus. We report the case of a patient with ABPA presenting with pleural effusion. A 27-year-old male was referred with recurrent right pleural effusion. Past medical history was remarkable for asthma, allergic sinusitis, and recurrent pleurisy. Investigations revealed peripheral eosinophilia with elevated serum immunoglobulin E and bilateral pleural effusions with bilateral upper lobe proximal bronchiectasis. Precipitating serum antibodies to A. fumigatus were positive and the A. fumigatus immediate skin test yielded a positive reaction. A diagnosis of ABPA associated with bilateral pleural effusions was made and the patient was commenced on prednisolone. At review, the patient's symptoms had considerably improved and his pleural effusions had resolved. ABPA may present with diverse atypical syndromes, including paratracheal and hilar adenopathy, obstructive lung collapse, pneumothorax and bronchopleural fistula, and allergic sinusitis. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis is a rare cause of pleural effusion and must be considered in the differential diagnosis of patients presenting with a pleural effusion, in particular those with a history of asthma.

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