Haemoptysis: aetiology, evaluation and outcome—a prospective study in a third-world country

A T Abal, P C Nair, J Cherian
Respiratory Medicine 2001, 95 (7): 548-52
Haemoptysis is an alarming symptom, and the management depends upon the aetiology. Emergency management depends upon localization of the site of bleeding by roentgenogram, computerized chest tompgraphy and bronchoscopy. We prospectively evaluated 52 patients with haemoptysis admitted to the Chest Hospital, Kuwait for 1 year (January 1998 to December 1998) and followed them up for 1 year (January 1999 to December 1999). There were 42 males (80.8%) and 10 (19.2%) females, with a mean age of 42.2 (16-86) years. Of these, 26.9% were Kuwaiti nationals, 36.5% were Arab non-Kuwaiti nationals, 34.6% were Asians and 1.9% were other nationals. The aetiologies of haemoptysis were bronchiectasis (21.2%), old pulmonary tuberculosis with bronchiectasis (17.3%), active pulmonary tuberculosis (15.4%), bronchitis (5.8%), aspergilloma, rheumatic heart disease and carcinoid (1.9%). Aetiology could not be identified in 25% of patients. The site of bleeding in haemoptysis could not be localized by the consultants in 18 (32%) by roentgenogram. 16 patients (37%) by CT scan and 23 patients (50%) by Fibreoptic bronchoscopy. Sequential estimation of hemoglobin showed a mean of 13.56 (SD 1.9) and 13.31 (SD 1.8) after 24 h. The difference in mean was statistically significant (p<0.036). Conservative management was given in 80.8%, and embolotherapy or surgical intervention in 19.2% of patients. Only 12% of patients had recurrent haemoptysis at 1-year follow up. In conclusion, bronchiectasis and pulmonary tuberculosis were the major causes of haemoptysis in this study. Roentgenogram, CT scan and fibreoptic bronchoscopy are useful for localizing the site of bleeding. Sequential estimation of haemoglobin may be helpful in assessing the severity of haemoptysis, but larger studies are required to address this observation. The outcome of haemoptysis is generally good, with a low mortality and recurrence rate.

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