Objectives: Hemoptysis, an important and alarming symptom, often indicates serious disease. This study was designed to assess the different causes of hemoptysis, the relative importance of the different diagnostic modalities employed, and the outcome in an Israeli population cohort.
Design: A retrospective analysis of 208 patients with hemoptysis at the Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel between January 1980 and August 1995.
Results: Bronchiectasis (20%), lung cancer (19%), bronchitis (18%), and pneumonia (16%) accounted for most causes of hemoptysis. In contrast to older studies, active tuberculosis was a rare finding (1.4%). Bronchiectasis and bleeding diathesis were major causes of moderate to severe hemoptysis while bronchitis and lung cancer were commonly associated with milder degrees of bleeding. CT scan was the most sensitive diagnostic test when employed alone, with a positive yield of 67%. However, it failed to locate at least three cases of lung cancer. When combining a CT study together with a bronchoscopy, the positive yield increased to 93%. The mortality rate for patients with mild to moderate hemoptysis was low (2.5% and 6%, respectively), while patients with massive hemoptysis had high mortality rates (38%). Patients with lung cancer or bleeding diathesis had higher mortality rates compared with the rest of the cohort.
Conclusions: Hemoptysis is a common symptom with a good prognosis in most cases. However, patients exhibiting massive bleeding or those with lung malignancy and patients with bleeding diathesis had a poorer prognosis. Patients older than 50 years with a positive smoking history need an extensive evaluation and follow-up to exclude lung carcinoma. The combined use of bronchoscopy and chest CT has the best yield in evaluating hemoptysis.