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Background: although bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) measurements of galactomannan antigen (GM) seems to be more sensitive than serum testing to detect invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA), a consensus on the most appropriate diagnostic threshold of the BAL GM test is still unclear. Moreover, there is uncertainty as to whether BAL is a safe procedure in patients with hematological malignancies (HM) and thrombocytopenia (TC).
Objectives: based on this background, 102 adult patients with HM and associated thrombocytopenia were retrospectively analyzed with the twin aims of 1) determining whether BAL is a safe and feasible procedure; and, 2) identifying the most appropriate threshold for GM positivity in the diagnosis of IPA.
Patients/Methods: each BAL was considered as one case/patient. One hundred twelve BALs were carried out in 102 HM patients: at the time of the BAL, the median platelets count (PLTs) in all patients was 47x109/L (1-476) and 31 patients (27%) had PLTs< 20x109/L.
Results: complications from the BAL were infrequent (3.5%) and mild. No bleeding was reported. The BAL GM cut off of >0.8 was associated with the best diagnostic accuracy (sensitivity 72.97% and specificity 80%). Antifungal treatment of patients with BAL GM >0.8resulted in a clinical-radiological improvement in 35/41patients (85%).
Conclusions: BAL was a safe procedure also in thrombocytopenic patients, permitting an IPA diagnosis not otherwise identifiable using EORTC/MSG criteria. Our data suggest that a BAL GM value of>0.8 represents the most useful cut-off in terms of sensibility and specificity. Further prospective studies on a larger number of patients are needed to confirm these results.