, based on data from 114 individuals.
Diagnosis of pulmonary mucormycosis (PM), an invasive and potentially life-threatening fungal infection, is often delayed because of its variable presentation, wrote Anne Coste, MD, of La Cavale Blanche Hospital and Brest (France) University Hospital, and colleagues.
Improved diagnostic tools including molecular identification and image-guided lung biopsies are now available in many centers, but relations between underlying conditions, clinical presentations, and diagnostic methods have not been described, they said.
In a study published, the researchers reviewed data from all cases of PM seen at six hospitals in France between 2008 and 2019. PM cases were based on European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Mycoses Study Group (EORTC/MSG) criteria. Diabetes and trauma were included as additional host factors, and positive serum or tissue PCR (serum qPCR) were included as mycological evidence. Participants also underwent thoracic computed tomography (CT) scans.
The most common underlying conditions among the 114 patients were hematological malignancy (49%), allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (21%), and solid organ transplantation (17%).
Among the 40% of the cases that involved dissemination, the most common sites were the liver (48%), spleen (48%), brain (44%), and kidneys (37%).
A review of radiology findings showed consolidation in a majority of patients (58%), as well as pleural effusion (52%). Other findings included reversed halo sign (RHS, 26%), halo sign (24%), vascular abnormalities (26%), and cavity (23%).
Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) was present in 46 of 96 patients (50%), and transthoracic lung biopsy was used for diagnosis in 8 of 11 (73%) patients with previous negative BALs.
Seventy patients had neutropenia. Overall, patients with neutropenia were significantly more likely than were those without neutropenia to show an angioinvasive presentation that included both RHS and disease dissemination (P < .05).
In addition, serum qPCR was positive in 42 of 53 patients for whom data were available (79%). Serum qPCR was significantly more likely to be positive in neutropenic patients (91% vs. 62%, P = .02). Positive qPCR was associated with an early diagnosis (P = .03) and treatment onset (P = .01).
Possible reasons for the high rate of disseminated PM in the current study may be the large number of patients with pulmonary involvement, use of body CT data, and availability of autopsy results (for 11% of cases), the researchers wrote in their discussion.
Neutropenia and radiological findings influence disease presentation and contribution of diagnostic tools during PM. Serum qPCR is more contributive in neutropenic patients and BAL examination in nonneutropenic patients. Lung biopsies are highly contributive in case of non-contributive BAL.
The findings were limited by several factors including the retrospective design, the inability to calculate sensitivity and specificity of diagnostic methods, and lack of data on patients with COVID-19, the researchers noted. However, the results provide real-life information for clinicians in centers with current mycological platforms, they concluded.
The study received no outside funding. Dr. Coste had no financial conflicts to disclose.