Background and objective: Pulmonary alveolar proteinosis (PAP) is a rare pulmonary disease. It was first described in China in 1965, and more cases have been reported subsequently. A systematic review was performed on 241 cases of PAP in China and progress in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease is discussed.
Methods: The Chinese biological and medical databases from 1965 to 2006 were searched and 241 cases with complete clinical and pathological data were identified. The clinical characteristics of the disease were summarized and longitudinal comparisons were made of diagnostic and treatment methods over time.
Results: The morbidity associated with PAP has increased in recent years. The clinical manifestations were non-specific. Progressive dyspnoea, cough and sputum were the most common symptoms. The percentage of patients undergoing CT examination has increased over the years. The combination of bronchoscopic biopsy and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) was usually sufficient to establish the diagnosis. Treatment was reported for a total of 142 cases. BAL and whole lung lavage were both effective and were only required once by most patients.
Conclusions: The demographic characteristics and clinical manifestations of PAP patients in China are largely consistent with previous reports. Morbidity has increased dramatically in recent years, mainly due to the broad application of bronchoscopy since 1995. CT is very important for diagnosis of the disease. The long-term effects of treatment by whole lung lavage and BAL are similar.