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J Infect Dis. 1988 Jun;157(6):1115-9.

Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia: diagnosis.

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Medical Service, San Francisco General Hospital, California 94110.


Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia occurs at some point in the course of illness in approximately 85% of patients with AIDS. Because of the frequency of P. carinii pneumonia and because it is readily treatable, prompt, accurate, and efficient diagnostic schemes are extremely important. The clinical presentation is generally characterized by fever, nonproductive cough, and shortness of breath. Such symptoms in a patient from a recognized HIV transmission category should prompt a diagnostic evaluation to identify P. carinii or other opportunistic infections. A chest radiograph usually provides an objective indication of lung disease. Pulmonary function tests, particularly the DLCO and lung imaging using 67Ga-labeled citrate, are useful screening tests in patients with normal chest radiographs. Examination of sputum induced by inhalation of aerosolized hypertonic saline is a very useful means of identifying P. carinii. Bronchoalveolar lavage is nearly 100% sensitive to the presence of P. carinii and should be performed in patients who have a nondiagnostic sputum examination. Transbronchial biopsy increases the overall yield for diagnoses other than P. carinii and should be performed in patients in whom bronchoalveolar lavage does not provide a diagnosis. Because of the effectiveness of sputum examinations and bronchoscopic procedures, open lung biopsy is rarely necessary.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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