Background: There is little information available on the features of initial presentation of bronchiectasis and documentation of the onset and progress of symptoms leading up to this. Therefore a study was performed on a large cohort of adult patients presenting to Monash Medical Centre (MMC) to survey the course of their disease up to the time of diagnosis.
Objectives: To characterise the onset and presenting clinical features of bronchiectasis in adults.
Methods: A cross-sectional study of 103 adults presenting to a tertiary referral hospital with newly diagnosed bronchiectasis. Clinical features of bronchiectasis and results of spirometry, sputum microbiology and radiology were assessed and correlated.
Results: Most patients had idiopathic bronchiectasis (74%) and did not have other significant disease. The dominant symptom was chronic productive cough present in 98% of patients with other important symptoms being chronic rhinosinusitis (70%), dyspnoea (62%), and fatigue (74%). Most patients had had a chronic productive cough for over 30 years prior to diagnosis and over 80% of patients had chronic respiratory symptoms from childhood. The dominant finding on physical examination was the presence of crackles which were generally bi-basal. Spirometry showed mild airway obstruction with an average forced expiratory volume in 1s of the cohort of 76% predicted. Radiologic imaging generally showed multilobar disease (80%).
Conclusions: The typical profile of bronchiectasis in this group of patients was of longstanding productive cough, rhinosinusitis and fatigue in non-smokers with crackles on chest auscultation.