Non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2013 Sep 15;188(6):647-56. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201303-0411CI.


There is renewed interest in non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis, which is a cause of significant morbidity in adults and can be diagnosed by high-resolution chest computed tomography scan. No longer mainly a complication after pulmonary infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, diverse disease processes and mechanisms have been demonstrated to result in the chronic cough, purulent sputum production, and airway dilation that characterize this disease. Improved understanding of the role of mucus stasis in causing bacterial colonization has led to increased emphasis on the use of therapies that enhance airway clearance. Inhalational antibiotics reduce the bacterial burden associated with a worse outcome. Low-dose, chronic macrolide therapy has been shown to decrease exacerbation frequency and airway inflammation. For the first time, a number of therapies for non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis are undergoing testing in clinical research trials designed specifically for this population. This concise clinical review focuses on the major etiologies, diagnostic testing, microbiology, and management of patients with adult non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis. Systematic evaluation identifies a specific cause in the majority of patients and may affect subsequent treatment. We outline current therapies and review the data that support their use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Airway Management / methods
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bronchi / physiopathology
  • Bronchi / surgery
  • Bronchiectasis / diagnosis*
  • Bronchiectasis / physiopathology
  • Bronchiectasis / therapy*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Macrolides / therapeutic use


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Macrolides