JOURNAL ARTICLE

Postobstructive Pneumonia: An Underdescribed Syndrome

Michael S Abers, Barcleigh P Sandvall, Rahul Sampath, Carlo Zuno, Natalie Uy, Victor L Yu, Charles E Stager, Daniel M Musher
Clinical Infectious Diseases 2016 April 15, 62 (8): 957-61
26908806

BACKGROUND: Postobstructive community-acquired pneumonia (PO-CAP) is relatively common in clinical practice. The clinical syndrome is poorly defined, and the role of infection as a cause of the infiltrate is uncertain. We prospectively studied patients with PO-CAP and compared them to a cohort of patients with bacterial community-acquired pneumonia (B-CAP).

METHODS: We prospectively studied patients hospitalized for CAP; 5.4% had PO-CAP, defined as a pulmonary infiltrate occurring distal to an obstructed bronchus. Sputum and blood cultures, viral polymerase chain reaction, urinary antigen tests, and serum procalcitonin (PCT) were done in nearly all cases. Clinical and laboratory characteristics of patients with PO-CAP were compared to those of patients with B-CAP.

RESULTS: In a 2-year period, we identified 30 patients with PO-CAP. Compared to patients with B-CAP, patients with PO-CAP had longer duration of symptoms (median, 14 vs 5 days;P< .001). Weight loss and cavitary lesions were more common (P< .01 for both comparisons) and leukocytosis was less common (P< .01) in patients with PO-CAP. A bacterial pathogen was implicated in only 3 (10%) PO-CAP cases. PCT was <0.25 ng/mL in 19 (63.3%) patients. Although no differences were observed in disease severity or rates of intensive care unit admissions, 30-day mortality was significantly higher in PO-CAP vs B-CAP (40.0% vs 11.7%;P< .01).

CONCLUSIONS: Although there is substantial overlap, PO-CAP is a clinical entity distinct from B-CAP; a bacterial cause was identified in only 10% of patients. Our study has important implications for the clinical recognition of patients with PO-CAP, the role of microorganisms as etiologic agents, and the use of antibiotic therapy.

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