An inexpensive device was used to provide a super-heated aerosol of a solution of 40 per cent propylene glycol in isotonic saline for sputum induction in 200 hospitalized patients. Seventy-three patients (Group I) had little or no spontaneous cough, 89 (Group II) had a dry, unproductive cough and 38 patients (Group III) had a productive cough prior to aerosol exposure. Fifty-six (76.7 per cent) in Group I, 71 (79.8 per cent) in Group II and all 38 patients in Group III produced an adequate sputum sample after one aerosol inhalation. Thirteen (17.8 per cent) in Group I and 15 (16.9 per cent) in Group II required two exposures, while only four (5.5 per cent) in Group I and three (3.3 per cent) in Group II needed three exposures to provide satisfactory specimens. Malignant cells were detected in the sputum of 61 (95.3 per cent) of 64 patients subsequently proven histologically to have bronchogenic carcinoma.
These data and the lack of adverse effects encountered suggest the value of the apparatus described for induction of cough and sputum production in routine surveys for the early detection of carcinoma of the lung.