The spectrum of pulmonary aspergillosis

J Thorac Imaging. 1992 Sep;7(4):56-74. doi: 10.1097/00005382-199209000-00009.


Aspergillus species can produce a wide range of pulmonary disorders. Classically, pulmonary aspergillosis has been categorized into invasive, saprophytic, and allergic forms, all of which differ in their manifestations and therapy. More recently, however, other types of infection by this fungus have been recognized that do not fit into these traditional categories; an example is semi-invasive (chronic necrotizing) aspergillosis. In fact, these forms have features that are intermediate between those of the invasive and saprophytic types. The various types of aspergillosis can be regarded as constituting a continuous spectrum, ranging from invasive disease in the severely immunosuppressed patient to hypersensitivity reactions such as allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (and bronchocentric granulomatosis) in the hyperreactive patient. Between these extremes are chronic necrotizing disease seen in midly immunocompromised hosts, and the noninvasive aspergilloma, which is due to saprophytic growth within a previously diseased area of lung in an otherwise normal host. Other intermediate forms may be encountered, their behavior being determined by the host immune status in combination with the underlying lung morphology. The radiographic and clinical features of these various forms of pulmonary aspergillosis are reviewed, including the more recently reported forms of infection such as Aspergillus tracheobronchitis and aspergillosis associated with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and cystic fibrosis. The proposed concept of a disease spectrum is emphasized.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillosis / classification*
  • Aspergillosis / immunology
  • Aspergillosis, Allergic Bronchopulmonary / classification
  • Humans
  • Immunocompetence
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal / classification*
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal / immunology
  • Mycetoma / classification
  • Necrosis