Study: Analyzing Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL) Fluid Helps Diagnose Lung Diseases, Pneumonia

Study: Analyzing Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL) Fluid Helps Diagnose Lung Diseases, Pneumonia

A new study confirms that analyzing the BAL fluid (bronchoalveolar lavage fluid in the lungs’ bronchi) is a valuable tool to help doctors properly diagnosis patients with lung diseases, including pneumonia.

The study “Diagnostic Value Of The Bronchoalveolar Lavage In Interstitial Lung Disease” was published in the journal La Tunisie Médicale.

Analysis of BAL fluid provides information about large areas of the alveolar compartment and the lower respiratory tract. Changes in the BAL fluid may help doctors detect pathological conditions, such as infectious and non-infectious diseases affecting the lungs.

To confirm the diagnostic value of BAL fluid analysis, researchers analyzed medical records of 33 patients who had been admitted to the hospital due to interstitial lung disease (ILD) over a period of three years (January 2011 to December 2013), and on whom doctors had performed BAL analyses. The team then compared the results of the analyses with the final diagnostic of all patients.

Of the 33 patients, four had non-specific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP), 10 had usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP), four had organizing pneumonia (COP), eight had sarcoidosis, two had hypersensitivity pneumonitis, three had infectious pneumonitis, and one had lymphoma and a pulmonary adenocarcinoma (tumor). BAL analyses agreed with the final diagnosis in the case of the three patients with infectious pneumonitis and the single case of adenocarcinoma, but also was compatible with the diagnosis of one NSIP patient, three UIP patients, three COP patients, one hypersensitivity pneumonitis patient and six sarcoidosis patients.

In addition, the analyses showed that among 17 patients who presented an atypical BAL fluid profile, radiologic analysis had diagnostic power in 10 cases. The team also found that seven patients, out of the initial 33, had an atypical BAL fluid profile and non-specific radiologic findings.

Together, these results led researchers to confirm the diagnostic value of BAL fluid analyses in patients with lung diseases.

“Our results put emphasis on the diagnostic value of BAL especially when it is integrated into a multi-disciplinary approach,” the authors wrote. “Its value in the follow-up, the evaluation of the activity of the disease and the prognosis is being more and more reported.”

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