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Bronchoalveolar cell differential count and the number of asbestos bodies correlate with survival in patients with asbestosis


Objectives To determine cell differential counts and the number of asbestos bodies (ABs) in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid obtained from patients with asbestosis, and to correlate the results with their survival.

Methods The BAL cell differential counts and ABs from 91 patients with asbestosis were determined. The BAL cell differential counts were analysed in relation to smoking status. BAL cell differential counts and the number of ABs were correlated with the patients’ survivals.

Results A neutrophilic cell pattern was observed independently of smoking habits with both Papanicolau (8.4%) and May-Grunwald-Giemsa (6.5%) staining. Smoking and a high number of ABs (>2 AB/mL) were associated with high total cell counts and high macrophage and low lymphocyte differential counts. The median survival of the patients was 131.8 months. Shortened survival was associated with high numbers of ABs (78 vs 165 months; p=0.042) and low lymphocyte (77 vs 179 months; p=0.005), high neutrophil (102 vs 180 months; p=0.016) and high eosinophil (104 vs170 months; p=0.007) differential counts.

Conclusion A neutrophilic cell pattern was evident in BAL from patients with asbestosis. Smoking and ABs both affected the total cell count and the macrophage and lymphocyte differential counts. Several BAL parameters associated with patient survival, suggesting that BAL cell count analyses could be used in the estimation of the prognosis of patients with asbestosis.

  • cytology and histology
  • respiratory
  • pneumoconioses

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