Farmer's lung. Long-term outcome and lack of predictive value of bronchoalveolar lavage fibrosing factors

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1993 Jul;148(1):216-21. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/148.1.216.


This study evaluates the long-term outcome of farmer's lung (FL), adding high-resolution computed tomograms (HRCT) to previously reported procedures and verifying whether bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid markers or substrates of fibrosis (hyaluronic acid, Type III procollagen, fibronectin, and fibroblast growth factors) (FF) predict outcome. A total of 33 subjects with a history of FL dating back at least 6 yr were evaluated with pulmonary function tests, chest x-ray (CXR), and HRCT. All subjects had an initial evaluation, which included a BAL, 6 yr before the current study. Subjects were then either in acute FL (n = 19) or in clinical remission despite continued contact (n = 14). In the current study, pulmonary function tests revealed an obstructive profile in 13 subjects, restrictive changes in 1, an isolated decrease in lung diffusion capacity in 3, and normal values in 16. Chest radiographs (CXR) were normal in 22 subjects, abnormal with interstitial or reticulonodular changes in 6, and suggestive of emphysema in 5. HRCT revealed emphysema in 9 subjects; 3 had localized fibrotic changes, 2 a ground-glass pattern, and 19 were normal. There was a good correlation between the findings on pulmonary function tests and HRCT; however, CXR alone did not suggest the existence of emphysema in 4 subjects who had such findings on HRCT. No correlations were found between most outcome parameters and the level of the BAL FF measured 6 yr previously. We conclude that airflow obstruction with or without emphysema is an important long-term sequela of FL and that BAL FF do not predict outcome in this disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology*
  • Farmer's Lung / complications
  • Farmer's Lung / diagnosis*
  • Farmer's Lung / epidemiology
  • Farmer's Lung / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Remission Induction
  • Respiratory Function Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome