A New Modality for the Diagnosis of Bleomycin-induced Toxicity: Ultrasonography

Arch Bronconeumol (Engl Ed). 2018 Dec;54(12):619-624. doi: 10.1016/j.arbres.2018.06.006. Epub 2018 Jul 19.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Objective: To evaluate the role of ultrasonography (USG) in the diagnosis of bleomycin-induced pulmonary toxicity (BT).

Material and methods: The study included patients with suspected BT during treatment with bleomycin due to various oncologic diseases between June 2015 and May 2017. The patients initially underwent clinical and high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) examinations and pulmonary function tests (PFT)-diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide (DLCO), followed by registration of USG findings-number of comet tail artifact (CTA) images by a different pulmonologist. We compared the findings from USG, HRCT, and PFT-DLCO tests between BT and non-BT groups. With the diagnosis based on clinical-radiologic and PFT-DLCO assessments taken as the gold standard, we determined the sensitivity and specificity of the USG outcomes for diagnosis of BT.

Results: The study included a total of 30 patients. Nine patients were diagnosed as having BT according to their clinical and radiologic findings and PFT-DLCO measurements. The mean number of CTA images was 68.7±22 in patients with BT vs 28.2±9.3 in those without BT (P<.001). The difference in CTA images between the patients with and without ground glass density was statistically significant (28.3±9.5 and 64.6±24.5, respectively, P<.001). In patients with BT, there was a negative correlation between the number of CTAs and DLCO% and FVC% values (P=.004; P=.016). USG had a sensitivity of 100%, and a specificity of 95% diagnosing BT in selected patients.

Conclusion: In bleomycin-induced toxicity, USG findings are correlated with HRCT and PFT-DLCO findings, with a remarkably increased number of CTAs in BT. Thoracic USG examination is a diagnostic tool with a high sensitivity and specificity for diagnosing BT.

Keywords: Bleomycin toxicity; Ecografía; High-resolution computed tomography; Tomografía computarizada de alta resolución; Toxicidad a bleomicina; Ultrasonography.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / adverse effects*
  • Bleomycin / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Lung Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography
  • Young Adult


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Bleomycin