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Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis with Hydropneumothorax in a Patient Taking High-Dose Glucocorticoids

Devika Dixit, Nelson T. Kuete, Philip Bene, Imran Khan, Gabriela Oprea-Ilies, Eric Flenaugh

(Department of Internal Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA)

Am J Case Rep 2020; 21:e928499

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.928499

BACKGROUND: Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA) is a severe form of the fungal infection with relatively high mortality rates. Risk factors that lead to IPA include immunosuppression through corticosteroid use. IPA complicated by hydropneumothorax is rare and its mechanism of formation is unknown.
CASE REPORT: A 72-year-old woman recently diagnosed with a right frontal meningioma that was managed with dexamethasone presented with a new 3-day history of nonproductive cough, chest pain, and dyspnea and was managed for pneumonia. The patient failed to improve, prompting a follow-up computed tomography scan, which revealed a right middle lobe cavitary lesion. During the workup of this lesion, the patient’s hospital course was complicated by hemoptysis and development of a large right hydropneumothorax that was successfully managed with a chest tube. Despite initial resolution of hydropneumothorax, the patient developed a right apical pneumothorax that gradually worsened. Bronchoscopy culture revealed Aspergillus fumigatus, leading to the diagnosis of IPA, which was managed with intravenous voriconazole.
CONCLUSIONS: Corticosteroid use with subsequent immunosuppression is a risk factor for developing IPA. Clinicians should include IPA in their differential diagnosis for respiratory infections in patients receiving corticosteroids. Although overall prognosis of IPA is poor, outcomes can be improved with early diagnosis, early empiric initiation of antifungals, and withdrawal of immunosuppressive therapy. IPA complicated by hydropneumothorax is a rare phenomenon with a poorly understood mechanism of formation. Based on our case, we propose a mechanism of hydropneumothorax formation from IPA.

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