Purpose: To retrospectively study the prophylaxis of invasive aspergillosis in neutropenic patients and to relate the frequency of this fungal disease to any causal or modifying factors that could be identified.
Patients and methods: Between 1977 and 1988, 130 patients underwent 158 intensive treatment episodes to control acute leukemia, lymphoma, and aplastic anemia, and the frequency of complicating aspergillus infection was determined.
Results: Proven invasive aspergillus infections occurred in 22 cases, 12 of which were fatal. Invasive aspergillosis was suspected in a further 16 cases and all these patients recovered with amphotericin B treatment. Colonization by Aspergillus in the absence of clinically significant infection was seen in 31 treatment episodes. Invasive aspergillosis involved mainly the upper and lower respiratory tract and skin. Control of the infection was closely related to the control of the underlying disease, with subsequent return of normal marrow function and resolution of neutropenia. The incidence of aspergillus infection has decreased dramatically since 1985, most probably due to the introduction of intranasal amphotericin B. This occurred despite the persistence of aspergillus spores in the hematology ward air during the 1986 to 1988 period.
Conclusion: Intranasal aerosolized amphotericin B may protect against invasive aspergillosis, even when neutropenic patients are cared for in conventional wards without HEPA filtration.