Computed tomography (CT) imaging findings in the lungs in the setting of an acute allergic response and following bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) are not well established. Our goals are to characterize the pulmonary CT findings of acute allergic response in both asthmatic and non-asthmatic subjects and, secondarily, to characterize the pulmonary imaging findings following BAL.
In this prospective observational (cohort) study, we identified atopic, asthmatic (AA) and atopic, non-asthmatic (ANA) subjects. CT of the chest was performed following BAL and instillation of an allergen (AL) and of an inert diluent (DL). Two radiologists analyzed the CT examinations for airway and parenchymal changes.
We had a cohort of 20 atopic subjects (AA=10, ANA=10; F=11, M=9; median age: 23.5 years, range: 18-48 years). Compared to diluent instillation and BAL, allergen instillation resulted in more significant bronchial wall thickening (AL=70%, DL=0%, BAL=0%, P<0.01), consolidations (AL=55%, DL=0%, BAL=15%, P<0.05), and septal thickening (AL=35%, DL=0%, BAL=0%, P<0.01). When present, consolidations tended to be more common in asthmatic subjects compared to non-asthmatics following instillation of the allergen, although this did not reach statistical significance (AA=80% . ANA=30%; P=0.07). BAL, on the other hand, resulted in more ground-glass opacities (BAL=15/20, 75% AL=2/20, 10%, . DL=0/20, 0%; P<0.01).
Acute allergic response in the lungs can result in significant bronchial wall thickening, septal thickening, and consolidations in those with atopy, particularly those with asthma. Localized ground-glass opacities may be expected following BAL, and care should be taken so as to not misinterpret these as significant pathology.

2020 Annals of Translational Medicine. All rights reserved.

References

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