Pulmonary aspergilloma is a kind of fungal infection that is characterized when a fungal ball is developed in the lung cavities. Typically, older males tend to be affected the most by this infection.
The cause of pulmonary aspergilloma is due to a fungus called aspergillus. One of the major risk factor for infection is having specific underlying lung conditions, like asthma or cystic fibrosis, and a weakened immune system.
Most individuals with pulmonary aspergilloma do not show any significant symptoms, meaning they tend to be asymptomatic. In others, chest pain, unintended weight loss, and blood in cough may be seen.
A possible complication of pulmonary aspergilloma is the spread of infection away from the lungs and lung bleeding (pulmonary hemorrhage), which can be dangerous.
What are the causes of pulmonary aspergilloma?
Pulmonary aspergilloma is caused by a fungus called Aspergillus.
- It is formed when the fungus grows in a lung cavity, but does not invade the surrounding lung tissue
- The most common type of fungus causing pulmonary aspergilloma is Aspergillus fumigatus
How can pulmonary aspergilloma be prevented?
The following can help prevent Pulmonary Aspergilloma:
- Try to avoid places where aspergillus is present, especially if an individual has underlying lung infections or a weak immune system
- Aspergillus is grown on dead leaves, stored grains, compost pile, and decaying vegetation. Individuals who are living with specific health conditions (poor immune systems) should try to ignore these areas.
What are the signs and symptoms of pulmonary aspergilloma?
Most of the individuals affected by pulmonary aspergilloma may not show any symptoms of the disease. It can be diagnosed incidentally while performing imaging studies for other conditions. Some of the individuals may show the following signs and symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Cough with or without any sputum (phlegm)
- Blood in cough
- Unintentional weight loss
How is pulmonary aspergilloma diagnosed?
Mostly pulmonary aspergilloma is diagnosed as an incidental finding, as many individuals do not show any symptoms. The doctor might order the following tests and examinations to assist and confirm the diagnosis:
- Blood tests: To detect antibodies specific to Aspergillus fungus
- Chest X-ray
- CT scan of the chest
- Sputum culture and microscopy
- Biopsy of lung tissue with culture studies
- Bronchoscopy with cultures of bronchial washings
Many clinical conditions may have similar signs and symptoms. Your doctor may perform additional tests to rule out other clinical conditions to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.
How can pulmonary aspergilloma be treated?
Most of the individuals who are affected with pulmonary aspergilloma do not develop any significant symptoms, and hence, no treatment may be required.
Also, the fungal ball in the lung remains of the same size in a majority of the cases. Sometimes, it may also regress or resolve spontaneously without any treatment.
In others, the following treatment measures may be considered:
- If the individual is coughing-up blood, treatment is necessary
- The individual might require emergency resuscitation by fluid and blood components, if the bleeding is large and severe
- Anti-fungal medications can be used
- Surgical treatment of the affected cavity and extraction of the fungal ball can be considered in case of severe or recurrent bleeding.