Galactomannan testing of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid is useful for diagnosis of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis in hematology patients

BMC Infect Dis. 2010 Mar 3;10:44. doi: 10.1186/1471-2334-10-44.


Background: Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with hematological malignancies in the setting of profound neutropenia and/or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Early diagnosis and therapy has been shown to improve outcomes, but reaching a definitive diagnosis quickly can be problematic. Recently, galactomannan testing of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid has been investigated as a diagnostic test for IPA, but widespread experience and consensus on optical density (OD) cut-offs remain lacking.

Methods: We performed a prospective case-control study to determine an optimal BAL galactomannan OD cutoff for IPA in at-risk patients with hematological diagnoses. Cases were subjects with hematological diagnoses who met established definitions for proven or probable IPA. There were two control groups: subjects with hematological diagnoses who did not meet definitions for proven or probable IPA and subjects with non-hematological diagnoses who had no evidence of aspergillosis. Following bronchoscopy and BAL, galactomannan testing was performed using the Platelia Aspergillus seroassay in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Results: There were 10 cases and 52 controls. Cases had higher BAL fluid galactomannan OD indices (median 4.1, range 1.1-7.7) compared with controls (median 0.3, range 0.1-1.1). ROC analysis demonstrated an optimum OD index cutoff of 1.1, with high specificity (98.1%) and sensitivity (100%) for diagnosing IPA.

Conclusions: Our results also support BAL galactomannan testing as a reasonably safe test with higher sensitivity compared to serum galactomannan testing in at-risk patients with hematological diseases. A higher OD cutoff is necessary to avoid over-diagnosis of IPA, and a standardized method of collection should be established before results can be compared between centers.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Galactose / analogs & derivatives
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / complications*
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Mannans / analysis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Young Adult


  • Mannans
  • galactomannan
  • Galactose