Background: A growing number of case reports suggest that pulmonary disease occurs in association with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) more frequently than previously recognized. Screening studies have also identified pulmonary abnormalities in a significant proportion of IBD patients.
Methods: A focused literature review of respiratory abnormalities in IBD patients and 55 English-language case series documenting 171 instances of respiratory pathology in 155 patients with known IBD.
Results: Screening studies using respiratory symptoms, high-resolution CT, and pulmonary function testing support a high prevalence of respiratory abnormalities among patients with IBD. Case reports and series document a spectrum of respiratory system involvement that spans from larynx to pleura, with bronchiectasis as the single most common disorder. IBD patients have a threefold risk of venous thromboembolism, and recent investigations have also revealed possible ties between IBD and other diseases involving the respiratory system, including sarcoidosis, asthma, and alpha(1)-antitrypsin deficiency.
Conclusion: Respiratory symptoms and diagnosed respiratory system disorders are more common among patients with IBD than generally appreciated. The spectrum of respiratory disorders occurring among patients with IBD is very broad. Diseases of the large airways are the most common form of involvement, with bronchiectasis being the most frequently reported form of IBD-associated lung disease.