Study objective: To study the diagnostic role of flexible bronchoscopy (FB) in immunocompromised patients with pulmonary infiltrates.
Design: Prospective, observational study.
Setting: Tertiary care hospital.
Patients: A total of 104 consecutive non-HIV-infected immunocompromised patients with lung infiltrates in whom FB was performed.
Methods: The primary outcome measure was the diagnostic yield of FB, which was derived as the number of the diagnoses made using FB results divided by all final diagnoses. Final diagnoses were established using data from FB, surgical lung biopsy (SLB), and microbiology and serology testing, and by the clinical response to empiric therapy. We also studied the diagnostic yields of individual sampling procedures such as BAL, transbronchial biopsy (TBB), and protected-specimen brush (PSB) sampling.
Results: Overall, 128 diagnoses were made in 104 patients. The overall diagnostic yield of FB was 56.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 47 to 64%). FB provided at least one diagnosis in 53 of 104 patients (51%; 95% CI, 40 to 62%). FB was more likely to establish the diagnosis when the lung infiltrate was due to an infectious agent (81%; 95% CI, 67 to 90%) than to a noninfectious process (56%; 95% CI, 43 to 67%; p = 0.011). The diagnostic yields of BAL (38%; 95% CI, 30 to 47%) and TBB (38%; 95% CI, 27 to 51%) were similar (p = 0.94). The diagnostic yield of PSB sampling was lower (13%; 95% CI 6 to 24%; p = 0.001) than that of BAL. The combined diagnostic yield of BAL and TBB (70%; 95% CI, 57 to 80%) was higher than that of BAL alone (p < 0.001). Finally, the diagnostic yield of FB with PSB sampling, BAL, and TBB was similar to that of FB with BAL and TBB. The complication rate from FB was 21% (95% CI, 15 to 31%). Minor bleeding (13%) and pneumothorax (4%) were the most common complications.
Conclusions: FB has a high diagnostic yield in immunocompromised patients with pulmonary infiltrates. Based on our results, we recommend performing TBB in these patients, whenever possible.