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Chest. 1990 Apr;97(4):788-92.

The clinical spectrum of Staphylococcus aureus pulmonary infection.

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Department of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago.


Staphylococcus aureus causes serious pulmonary infections in adults. Prior descriptions of this entity have depended on diagnosis of expectorated sputum cultures that are often contaminated. To better characterize this infection, we retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 31 adults with S aureus pulmonary infection diagnosed by culture specimens uncontaminated by the upper respiratory flora. Our results support the concept that S aureus pulmonary infections usually occur in older adults (sixth decade or older) with concomitant illnesses that are typically nosocomial. However, in contrast to previous reports, the chest roentgenograms in these patients typically showed multilobar infiltrates (60 percent), predominantly in the lower lobes (64 percent), and often bilateral (48 percent). Pleural involvement (48 percent) was more common than previously reported, and abscess formation (16 percent) occurred infrequently. Sputum cultures were found to be sensitive but nonspecific diagnostic tools. Despite antibiotic therapy, reinfection occurred in 10 percent of patients and the mortality rate was 32 percent.

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