Long-term risk of emphysema in patients with farmer's lung and matched control farmers

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1998 Aug;158(2):662-5. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.158.2.9710012.


We evaluated the long-term outcome of farmer's lung (FL) patients and matched control farmers using high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT). The study population consisted of 88 FL patients and 83 control farmers, matched by age, sex, and smoking habits. The mean time after the first diagnosed episode of FL was 14 yr. The great majority, 82%, of the studied subjects were nonsmokers. Clinical studies included HRCT, spirometry, and pulmonary diffusing capacity. Emphysema was found significantly more often (23%) in FL patients than in control farmers (7%) (p = 0.006). The presence of emphysema was 18% in nonsmoking and 44% in smoking FL patients, the respective values being 4% and 20% in control farmers. Patients with recurrent attacks of FL tended to have emphysema more often (p = 0. 08) than patients who had experienced only a single attack. Fibrosis was observed in 17% of the FL patients and in 10% of the control farmers (p = 0.2). Miliary changes were found in 12% of the FL patients compared with 4% of the control farmers (p = 0.07). Both emphysematous and fibrotic but not miliary changes correlated significantly with impaired pulmonary function. In conclusion, farmer's lung disease seems to be associated with an increased risk of developing emphysema.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Farmer's Lung / complications*
  • Farmer's Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Farmer's Lung / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Diffusing Capacity
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / etiology*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / physiopathology
  • Recurrence
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods