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.