Study objectives: To assess the diagnostic utility of protected BAL (P- BAL) in respiratory infections in immunocompromised patients and to examine whether P-BAL alone could substitute the combined use of protected specimen brush (PSB) and RAL in such patients. Patients and study design: Thirty- seven immunocompromised patients who underwent PSR, P-BAL, and BAL simultaneously for the diagnosis or exclusion of bacterial or nonbacterial opportunistic respiratory infections were studied prospectively. The P-BAL was performed through the inner catheter of a telescoping plugged catheter with 60 mL of saline solution. Main results: Thirteen (35%) cases of bacterial pneumonia were diagnosed. PSB obtained seven true-positive (TP) results, P-RAL obtained nine, and BAL obtained eight TP. Results of the three techniques were positive and concordant in 6 of the 13 cases. PSB remained free of contamination from oropharyngeal flora in all cases, P-BAL was contaminated twice, and BAL was contaminated in four cases. Opportunistic respiratory infections were diagnosed in 19 patients. P-BAL results were identical to those with BAL in all cases: 18 TP and 1 false-negative. The average volume of P-BAL fluid retrieved was 19 mL, sufficient for all microbiologic and cytologic processings. P-BAL was more time-consuming than both PSB and BAL procedures and was technically more complex. Conclusion: P- BAL alone can substitute the combined use of both PSB and BAL in immunocompromised patients and attains a higher sensitivity than PSB in diagnosing bacterial pneumonia. The combined strategy continues to be a good choice, but due to the high incidence of bacterial pneumonia in these patients, a highly efficient diagnostic procedure is required not only for nonbacterial opportunistic respiratory infections but also for bacterial pneumonia.
- immunocompromised patients
- protected bronchoalveolar lavage
- respiratory infections