Cryptococcus neoformans is an uncommonly recognized cause of pneumonia in HIV-negative patients. Because of its propensity to disseminate to the meninges and other sites, a lumbar puncture is recommended for patients with pulmonary cryptococcosis, regardless of other risk factors. This study explored clinical and laboratory features to help predict which patients had pulmonary disease alone versus those who had pulmonary plus extrapulmonary disease. A retrospective chart review at 15 medical centers was performed from 1990 to 2000 of all HIV-negative patients who had pulmonary cryptococcosis. Demographic, clinical, radiographic, and laboratory features were evaluated to determine factors that differentiated those patients who had extrapulmonary disease. Among 166 patients who had pulmonary cryptococcosis, 122 had pulmonary infection only and 44 had pulmonary plus extrapulmonary (disseminated) disease. A negative serum cryptococcal antigen titer was more common in patients with pulmonary disease alone (p < 0.01). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that patients who had disseminated disease were more likely than those who only had pulmonary disease to have cirrhosis (p = 0.049), headache (p < 0.001), weight loss (p = 0.003), fever (p = 0.035), altered mental status (p < 0.001), and to be receiving high-dose corticosteroids (p = 0.008). In this large cohort of HIV-negative patients with pulmonary cryptococcosis, there were easily distinguished clinical and laboratory features among patients with pulmonary disease alone versus those with pulmonary plus extrapulmonary disease. These findings may be helpful in the evaluation of HIV-negative patients with pulmonary cryptococcosis with regard to the need for lumbar puncture or to search for disseminated disease.
Meningitis Fluconazole Lumbar Puncture Central Nervous System Involvement Cryptococcosis
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The original surveillance study, from which this study was derived, was sponsored in part by a grant from Pfizer, Inc.
Conflict of interest statement
JWB has received active research support from Astellas and Merck, is associated with the speakers’ bureau for Merck and Enzon, and provides consulting services for Pfizer and Enron. JRP has consulted for and received research grants and honoraria from Enzon, Astellas, Pfizer, Schering-Plough, and Merck. RAO has no conflicts of interest. RAL has received active clinical research grants from Gilead Sciences and Merck. GAP has no conflicts of interest. HH has no conflicts of interest. DWH has received research grants from Bavarian Nordic, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bristol Meyers Squibb, Gilead Sciences, Merck, Tanox, and Tibotec. He is on Scientific Advisory Boards for Glaxo Smith Kline and Tibotec. CAK has received research grants from Merck, Astellas, Schering-Plough and is associated with the speakers’ bureau for Pfizer, Merck, Astellas, and Schering-Plough. RP has received grant support from Pfizer, Inc. AKZ has received grant support from Enzon Pharmaceuticals, is associated with the speakers’ bureau for Pfizer, Inc., and provides consulting services for Astellas Pharma and Merck and Co. PGP has received grant support and is associated with the speakers’ bureau for Pfizer Inc., Merck and Co., Schering-Plough, Astellas Pharma, and Enzon Pharmaceuticals. He also serves as an ad hoc advisor for Merck and Schering-Plough.
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