Bronchoalveolar lavage in the diagnosis of diffuse pulmonary infiltrates in the immunosuppressed host
The usefulness of bronchoalveolar lavage in the diagnosis of pulmonary infiltrates in the immunosuppressed patient was studied in 97 patients. In immunosuppressed patients, the available diagnostic procedures are often invasive and have variable yield and a potential for serious complications. Bronchoalveolar lavage had an overall diagnostic yield of 66% (61 of 92 diseases). It was most effective in the diagnosis of opportunistic infections, including infection with Pneumocystis carinii (18 of 22 cases), cytomegalovirus pneumonia (10 of 12 cases), fungal pneumonia (5 of 6 cases), and mycobacterial disease (4 of 5 cases). The technique was also helpful in suspected pulmonary hemorrhage (7 of 9 cases) but was less useful for diagnosing malignancy (10 of 22 cases) and drug-induced toxicity (6 of 15 cases). Findings of bronchoalveolar lavage could be combined with those of transbronchial biopsies, brushings, and washings in the diagnosis of most of the diseases. The procedure was safe, even in thrombocytopenic patients and those requiring mechanical ventilatory support. Bronchoalveolar lavage is a valuable procedure for evaluation of pulmonary disease in the immunosuppressed host.