Pulmonary disease is the most common reason for presentation and the major cause of death in HIV-infected patients. There has been an evolution in the optimal approach to the investigation of a pulmonary infiltrate in HIV-infected patients since the introduction of induced sputum for the diagnosis of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP).
To evaluate the usefulness of flexible fibreoptic bronchoscopy (FFB), bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), transbronchial biopsy (TBB) and bronchial brushings (BB) in the diagnosis of pulmonary disease in HIV-infected patients and to examine the effect of FFB on changes in therapy and survival.
The histories of all HIV-infected patients referred to Fairfield Hospital for FFB between January 1990 and June 1993 were examined retrospectively.
Forty-two FFB were performed on 41 patients (40 male and one female). Definitive diagnoses made at FFB included Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) (n = 9), invasive aspergillosis (n = 5), PCP (n = 4), Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) pneumonia (n = 2), cytomegalovirus (CMV) pneumonia (n = 1), Cryptococcus neoformans pneumonia (n = 1), microsporidium (n = 1) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa pneumonia (n = 1). TBB and BB did not provide a diagnosis for diseases not seen macroscopically at FFB or diagnosed by BAL. FFB findings altered diagnosis in 21/42 (50%) presentations and changed therapy in 26/42 (62%) cases.
FFB together with BAL altered the working diagnosis and changed therapy in a significant number of patients. TBB and BB should not be routinely performed in all patients as these procedures are of limited value in this setting.