Background: Organizing pneumonia (OP) is a non-specific response to many types of lung injury. Clinicians frequently encounter pathology reports of OP in patients with no underlying condition (cryptogenic OP, also known as BOOP or bronchiolitis obliterans OP) or in association with drugs or nonpulmonary disease. The goals of this study are to describe the clinical course and outcomes in patients with 3 clinical variants of OP.
Methods: A retrospective study of patients with OP seen at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn, from January 1, 1984, through June 30, 1994, was conducted. Initial features were obtained from medical records. Chest radiographs and pathology specimens were reviewed for this study. Resolution, relapse, and survival were obtained from medical records and a follow-up patient questionnaire.
Results: Seventy-four patients had pathologically confirmed OP. Organizing pneumonia was classified into 3 clinical groups: symptomatic cryptogenic OP; symptomatic OP related to underlying hematologic malignant neoplasm, collagen vascular disease, or drugs (secondary OP); and asymptomatic OP presenting as a focal nodule (focal OP). Thirty-seven patients (50%) had cryptogenic OP and 27 patients (36%) had secondary OP. No difference was found between cryptogenic and secondary OP in type or severity of symptoms, signs, laboratory and pulmonary function tests, or radiologic or pathologic findings. Corticosteroids were given at a similar initial dose (prednisone, about 50 mg/d). Resolution of symptoms was more frequent in patients with cryptogenic OP than those with secondary OP. Relapse was infrequent in both of these groups. Five-year survival was higher in patients with cryptogenic OP (73%) than in secondary OP (44%), and respiratory-related deaths were more frequent in patients with secondary OP. Organizing pneumonia was an asymptomatic focal rounded opacity in 10 patients (14%), most often detected on chest radiograph and diagnosed on lung biopsy done for suspicion of lung cancer. Patients with focal OP required no treatment and had no relapse or respiratory-related deaths.
Conclusions: Clinical classification of OP is useful to predict clinical course and outcome. Cryptogenic OP most often was a symptomatic bilateral lung process that had an overall favorable prognosis with prolonged corticosteroid therapy. Patients with secondary OP had a high mortality rate when the disease was associated with predisposing conditions or drugs. Patients with asymptomatic focal OP had an excellent prognosis.