Bronchiectasis is an incurable pulmonary disorder that is characterized pathologically by permanent bronchial dilatation and severe bronchial inflammation and clinically by chronic productive cough and recurrent infectious exacerbations; bronchiectasis often occurs in the presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is widely believed that increasing use of high-resolution computed tomography has led to a marked rise in the number of persons with diagnosed bronchiectasis in current US clinical practice; up-to-date evidence, however, is lacking. Using a retrospective cohort design and health-care claims data (2009-2013), we estimated the prevalence of bronchiectasis (noncystic fibrosis)-based on narrow case-finding criteria-to be 139 cases per 100,000 persons, to be higher among women versus men (180 vs. 95 per 100 K), and to increase substantially with age (from 7 per 100 K to 812 per 100 K aged 18-34 years and ≥75 years, respectively); annual incidence was estimated to be 29 cases per 100,000 persons. Disease prevalence based on broad case-finding criteria was estimated to be 213 cases per 100,000 persons. The findings of this study suggest that between 340,000 and 522,000 adults were receiving treatment for bronchiectasis and that 70,000 adults were newly diagnosed with bronchiectasis, in 2013 US clinical practice. The findings of this study also suggest that bronchiectasis is much more common than previously reported (annual growth rate since 2001, 8%), presumably due-at least in part-to recent advances in, and increased use of, radiologic techniques. Additional research is needed to validate the findings of this study, to identify the reasons for increased prevalence, and to promote education about bronchiectasis nationally.
Keywords: Bronchiectasis; epidemiology; incidence; prevalence.