Respiratory Candida in Patients with Bronchitis, Mucus Plugging, and Atelectasis

The Open Respiratory Medicine Journal 31 December 2020 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874306402014010087



The significance of Candida in pulmonary secretions is unclear, and usually is regarded as colonization, not contributing to symptoms or disease. Yet, in our experience, Candida seemed associated with chronic sputum, mucus plugging, atelectasis, and poor outcome.


The aim of this study is to describe the clinical findings of patients with Candida in pulmonary (sputum or bronchoscopy) secretions and the significance of Candida.


Retrospective study of inpatients and outpatients referred for pulmonary consultation with Candida in pulmonary secretions. Clinical parameters and estimates of whether Candida was likely clinically significant, were determined.


82 inpatients and 11 outpatients were identified, of which 61 (66%) had atelectasis and 68 (73%) bronchoscopies. Of patients having bronchoscopies, 56 (82%) had mucus, and 43 (63%) mucus plugging. Of the inpatients death (or probable death) occurred in 43 (63%), 42 (98%) of which were from definite or probable respiratory failure, with 13 (31%) likely related to mucus plugging, 16 (38%) possibly from mucus plugging, 6 (14%) unknown, and 7 (17%) not due to mucus plugging. Candida was felt likely clinically significant in 57 patients (61%), uncertain significance in 23 (25%), and not significant in 13 (14%). All outpatients had exacerbations, including 7 (64%) within a year.


Patients requiring pulmonary consultation with Candida in pulmonary secretions often have chronic sputum production, exacerbations, mucus plugging, atelectasis, and death from respiratory failure. Candida was likely clinically significant in most patients. Recommendations to consider Candida in pulmonary secretions as colonization should be reconsidered.

Keywords: Atelectasis, Bronchoscopy, Candida, Chronic bronchitis, Mucus plugging, Sputum.
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