Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis in patients with neoplastic diseases

Thomas J. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in granulocytopenic patients. The purpose of this article is to review the current understanding of the microbiology, hospital epidemiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. Aspergillus conidia (spores) are inhaled from environmental sources into the paranasal sinuses and lower respiratory tract. Persistent fever, pulmonary infiltrates, and pleuritic pain in granulocytopenic patients receiving antibacterial antibiotics is a common manifestation of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. Computerized tomographic scans of the chest often reveal characteristic peripheral nodules that also may progress to characteristic cavitary lesions. Hemoptysis may develop due either to hemorrhagic infarction during granulocytopenia or to the rupture of mycotic aneurysms during recovery from granulocytopenia. Aspergillus organisms may extend locally from the lung to involve other thoracic structures, including the heart and chest wall, and may disseminate to extrapulmonary sites, such as the brain, where focal neurological deficits ensue. Early diagnosis of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis may be difficult. Isolation of Aspergillus organisms from respiratory secretions of a persistently febrile granulocytopenic patient is usually indicative of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis and should not be dismissed as a contaminant or saprophyte. Amphotericin B is the treatment of choice; however, high dosages (1.0 to 1.5 mg/kg/day) are often necessary. Aspergillosis may develop in granulocytopenic patients who are already receiving empirical amphotericin B in lower doses (0.5 to 0.6 mg/kg/day). It is hoped that further investigation directed toward an understanding of pathogenesis, improving diagnostic methodology, and developing new therapeutic and preventive strategies will improve the outcome of this life-threatening infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-122
Number of pages12
JournalSeminars in Respiratory Infections
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Microbiology (medical)


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