Background: The classical clinical manifestation of untreated immunoglobulin deficiency comprises predominantly recurrent and complicated respiratory tract infections. Before the 1980s, little was known about the clinical manifestation of immunodeficiency in the general medical population, and also the availability of serum immunoglobulin laboratory determination was not sufficient, leading to a significant diagnostic delay.
Methods: We have analysed the diagnostic delay and referral diagnoses in patients in whom any form of primary hypogammaglobulinaemia had been diagnosed at our department, which was established in 1981.
Results: Comparing the diagnostic delay in the 1980s (19 patients, median 5.5 years), the 1990s (37 patients, median 3.5 years) and the years 2001-2008 (33 patients, median 1 year), a significant decrease was observed (p < 0.05, Spearman's correlation coefficient). Also, the median number of pneumonia episodes during the diagnostic delay decreased from 5 in the 1980s, to 1 in the 1990s and to 0 in the period of 2001-2008 (p < 0.05, Spearman's correlation coefficient). While in the 1980s 17 of the 19 patients had pneumonia in their past history, in the period of 2001-2008 only 13 of the 33 patients were concerned.
Conclusions: Our observation documents improved awareness of immunodeficiencies among physicians. It is supposed that earlier diagnosis will prevent complications, improve the quality of life and even survival of hypogammaglobulinaemic patients.
Copyright (c) 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel.