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Bronchoalveolar lavage in immunocompromised patients with haematological malignancy – value of new microbiological methods

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Hohenthal U, Itälä M, Salonen J, Sipilä J, Rantakokko-Jalava K, Meurman O, Nikoskelainen J, Vainionpää R, Kotilainen P. Bronchoalveolar lavage in immunocompromised patients with haematological malignancy – value of new microbiological methods.

Eur J Haematol 2005: 74: 203–211. © Blackwell Munksgaard 2005. Abstract: 

Purpose: To assess the usefulness of new culture-independent microbiological methods to analyse bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid from haematological patients with clinical pneumonia. Patients and methods: Results of 135 BALs from 122 disease episodes in 99 patients treated between 1996 and 2002 were retrospectively analysed. Forty-three patients had undergone haematopoietic stem cell transplantation and 56 patients had been treated with conventional chemotherapy for haematological malignancy. In addition to conventional microbiological methods, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for Pneumocystis carinii, cytomegalovirus (CMV), Legionella sp., mycobacterium, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and Chlamydia pneumoniae and the Aspergillus antigen test were performed. Results: Three (2.2%) quantitative and four (3.0%) special bacterial cultures gave an aetiological diagnosis. A respiratory virus was isolated in 10 episodes (8.2%). The diagnostic yield increased to 35.6% (48 of 135) by other methods. The P. carinii PCR test was positive in 21 of 24 patients with P. carinii pneumonia, being the only microbiological indication of P. carinii in four cases. The CMV PCR test was positive in 18 patients, but in 14 patients the clinical significance of the finding remained unproven. The Aspergillus antigen test was positive in seven of nine patients with aspergillosis, being the only microbiological indication of Aspergillus in three cases. The result of BAL indicated commencement of specific antimicrobial treatment in 27 episodes (22.1%). Conclusion: The contribution of new culture-independent methods to the total diagnostic yield was of note. Among these methods, the P. carinii PCR and Aspergillus antigen tests proved the most valuable, while the CMV PCR test was not clinically useful.
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Keywords: Aspergillus antigen; Bronchoalveolar lavage; Cytomegalovirus PCR; Pneumocystis carinii PCR; polymerase chain reaction methods

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Medicine 2: Otorhinolaryngology 3: Clinical Microbiology, Turku University Central Hospital, Turku, Finland 4: Virology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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