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Diagn Cytopathol. 2000 Jan;22(1):45-8.

Acid-fast-positive Legionella pneumophila: a possible pitfall in the cytologic diagnosis of mycobacterial infection in pulmonary specimens.

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Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.


The acid-fast stain is commonly used in the rapid cytologic assessment of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid to detect pulmonary mycobacterial infections, particularly in immunocompromised patients. The identification of acid-fast, rod-shaped organisms may be taken as presumptive evidence of such an infection, in the appropriate clinical setting. However, this determination is made less specific by the occasional acid-fast positivity of microorganisms other than mycobacteria. We report on the occurrence of a fatal pneumonia caused by acid-fast positive Legionella pneumophila detected by BAL. This is a potential pitfall in the rapid diagnosis of pulmonary mycobacterial infections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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