Study objective: To present the clinical, radiologic, and pathologic aspects of 24 cases of human pulmonary dirofilariasis (HPD) from São Paulo, Brazil.
Design: Retrospective study of 24 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of HPD over a 14-year period (from February 1982 to June 1996).
Setting: Thoracic Surgery and Pulmonary Division, University of São Paulo and Hospital Albert Einstein, São Paulo, Brazil.
Results: Seventeen patients were male (70.1%) and seven were female (29.9%). Their mean age was 51.4 years. Fifty-four percent of the patients were asymptomatic and 75% had a well-circumscribed noncalcified peripheral subpleural pulmonary nodule on the chest radiograph and thoracic CT scan, located preferentially in the lower lobes. The diagnosis was made after thoracotomy and wedge resections in 16 patients, by videothoracoscopy in six, after a pleural biopsy in one, and after necropsy in one. The pathologic examination of all the nodules revealed a central zone of necrosis, surrounded by a narrow granulomatous zone and peripherally by fibrous tissue. Pulmonary vessels exhibit varying degrees of endarteritis. In all cases, a dead worm, usually necrotic and fragmented, was found.
Conclusions: A subpleural, noncalcified pulmonary nodule in the appropriate clinical and epidemiologic setting should alert the clinician, radiologist, or pathologist to the possibility of Dirofilaria. HPD should be considered in the differential diagnosis of pulmonary nodules.