New category of probable invasive pulmonary aspergillosis in haematological patients


Corresponding author: C. Girmenia, Dipartimento di Ematologia, Oncologia, Anatomia Patologica e Medicina Rigenerative, Azienda Policlinico Umberto I, ‘Sapienza’ University of Rome, Via Benevento 6, 00161 Rome, Italy


Clin Microbiol Infect 2012; 18: 990–996


The European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer and the Mycosis Study Group (EORTC-MSG) radiological definitions of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA) may lack diagnostic sensitivity. We evaluated applying less restrictive radiological criteria, when supported by specific microbiological findings, to define IPA in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), lymphoproliferative diseases (LD) and allogeneic stem cell transplant (allo-SCT) patients. Overall, 109 consecutive episodes of proven/probable IPA in 56 AML, 31 LD and 22 allo-SCT patients diagnosed from February 2006 through to January 2011 were considered. IPA was diagnosed with EORTC-MSG criteria (control group, 76 patients) or without prespecified radiological criteria (study group, 33 patients). The latter differed from the former by the inclusion of patients with pulmonary infiltrates not fulfilling the three EORTC-MSG IPA specific findings of dense, well-circumscribed lesions with or without halo sign, air crescent sign or cavity. All the analysed clinical and mycological characteristics, 3-month response to antifungal therapy and 1- and 3-month cumulative survival were comparable in the control and study groups in AML, LD and allo-SCT patients. Seventeen of 33 (51.5%) patients of the study group fulfilled EORTC-MSG radiological criteria at subsequent imaging performed a median of 15 days (range, 6–40 days) after documentation of the pulmonary infection. Our study seems to confirm the possibility of revising the EORTC-MSG criteria by extending the radiological suspicion of IPA to less specific chest computerized tomography scan findings when supported by microbiological evidence of Aspergillus infection in high-risk haematological patients.