Background: The prevalence of Aspergillus hypersensitivity (AH) and allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) in bronchial asthma is reported differently in various studies.
Objective: To determine the prevalence of AH and ABPA in asthma using a systematic review.
Methods: We searched the MEDLINE and EMBASE databases for studies published from 1965 to 2008 and included studies that report the prevalence of AH/ABPA in asthma. We calculated the proportions with 95% confidence interval (CI) to assess the prevalence of AH/ABPA in the individual studies and pooled the results using a random effects model.
Results: Our search yielded 21 eligible studies. The prevalence of AH in bronchial asthma was 28% (95%CI 24-34), and was higher with an intradermal test vs. a prick test (28.7% vs. 24.8%, P = 0.002), but did not vary with the type of antigen used (indigenous or commercial). The prevalence of ABPA in bronchial asthma and Aspergillus-hypersensitive bronchial asthma was respectively 12.9% (95%CI 7.9-18.9) and 40% (95%CI 27-53). There was a wide variation in the criteria used for the diagnosis of ABPA. There was significant statistical heterogeneity assessed by the I(2) test and Cochran Q statistic in all the outcomes.
Conclusions: There is a high prevalence of AH and ABPA in patients with bronchial asthma. Careful screening should therefore be performed in all patients with bronchial asthma. Intradermal tests are more sensitive than prick tests for the diagnosis of AH. Finally, there is a need to adopt a uniform methodology and criteria for the diagnosis of AH/ABPA.