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Pulmonary aspergilloma

Definition

Pulmonary aspergilloma is a mass caused by a fungal infection. It usually grows in lung cavities. The infection can also appear in the brain, kidney, or other organs.

Alternative Names

Fungus ball; Mycetoma; Aspergilloma; Aspergillosis - pulmonary aspergilloma

Causes

Aspergillosis is an infection caused by the fungus aspergillus. Aspergillomas are formed when the fungus grows in a clump in a lung cavity. The cavity is often created by a previous condition. Cavities in the lung may be caused by diseases such as:

The most common species of fungus that causes disease in humans is Aspergillus fumigatus.

Aspergillus is a common fungus. It grows on dead leaves, stored grain, bird droppings, compost piles, and other decaying vegetation.

Symptoms

You may not have symptoms. When symptoms do develop, they can include:

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider may suspect you have a fungal infection after x-rays of your lungs show the ball of fungus. Other tests that may be done include:

  • Biopsy of lung tissue
  • Blood test for presence of aspergillus in the body (galactomannan)
  • Blood test to detect immune response to aspergillus (specific antibodies for aspergillus)
  • Bronchoscopy or bronchoscopy with lavage
  • Chest CT
  • Sputum culture

Treatment

Many people never develop symptoms. Often, no treatment is needed, unless you are coughing up blood.

Sometimes, antifungal medicines may be used.

If you have bleeding in the lungs, your provider may recommend a test to inject dye into the blood vessels (angiography) to find the site of bleeding. The bleeding is stopped by either:

  • Surgery to remove the aspergilloma
  • Procedure that inserts material into the blood vessels to stop the bleeding (embolization)

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome can be good in many people. However, it depends on the severity of the condition and your overall health.

Surgery may be very successful in some cases, but it is complex and can have a high risk of serious complications.

Possible Complications

Complications of pulmonary aspergilloma may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

See your provider if you cough up blood, and be sure to mention any other symptoms that have developed.

Prevention

People who have had related lung infections or who have weakened immune systems should try to avoid environments where the aspergillus fungus is found.

Gallery

Lungs
The major features of the lungs include the bronchi, the bronchioles and the alveoli. The alveoli are the microscopic blood vessel-lined sacks in which oxygen and carbon dioxide gas are exchanged.
Aortic rupture - chest X-ray
Aortic rupture (a tear in the aorta, which is the major artery coming from the heart) can be seen on a chest X-ray. In this case, it was caused by a traumatic perforation of the thoracic aorta. This is how the X-ray appears when the chest is full of blood (right-sided hemothorax) seen here as cloudiness on the left side of the picture.
CT scan
CT stands for computerized tomography. In this procedure, a thin X-ray beam is rotated around the area of the body to be visualized. Using very complicated mathematical processes called algorithms, the computer is able to generate a 3-D image of a section through the body. CT scans are very detailed and provide excellent information for the physician.
Aspergilloma
Aspergillosis is an acute pulmonary infection caused by the aspergillus fungus. Aspergillus can cause illness three ways an allergic reaction in asthmatics, a colonization in scarred lung tissue, and an invasive infection with pneumonia, which can affect the heart, lungs, brain and kidneys.
Aspergilloma
Aspergillosis is an acute pulmonary infection caused by the aspergillus fungus. Aspergillus can cause illness three ways an allergic reaction in asthmatics, a colonization in scarred lung tissue, and an invasive infection with pneumonia, which can affect the heart, lungs, brain and kidneys.
Aspergilloma
Aspergillosis is an acute pulmonary infection caused by the aspergillus fungus. Aspergillus can cause illness three ways an allergic reaction in asthmatics, a colonization in scarred lung tissue, and an invasive infection with pneumonia, which can affect the heart, lungs, brain and kidneys.
Coronavirus
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses. Infection with these viruses can cause mild to moderate respiratory illnesses such as the common cold. Some coronaviruses may cause severe illness and lead to pneumonia or even death.

References

Patterson TF, Thompson GR 3rd, Denning DW, et al. Practice guidelines for the diagnosis and management of aspergillosis: 2016 update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2016;63(4):e1-e60. PMID: 27365388 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27365388/.

Saullo JL, Alexander BD. Fungal infections: opportunistic. In: Broaddus VC, Ernst JD, King TE, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 57.

Walsh TJ. Aspergillosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 319.

Last reviewed September 10, 2022 by Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Associate in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team..

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