Study objectives: To define the clinical characteristics of the patients showing bronchoscopic findings of bronchial narrowing or obliteration with black pigmentation on overlying mucosa (we named this finding as "anthracofibrosis"), and to determine the association of anthracofibrosis with tuberculosis.
Patients and methods: The subjects of this study consisted of 28 patients; 8 men and 20 women, ranging in age from 42 to 86 years. The distinctive clinical features, natures of bronchoscopic lesions, and radiologic findings were analyzed retrospectively and summarized. Bacteriologic studies and results of pathologic examinations were also assessed.
Results: Chief complaints were cough (20/28) and dyspnea on exertion (17/28). The abnormal bronchoscopic findings were identified most frequently in the right middle lobe bronchus (n=21/28) while more than one part of the bronchial tree was narrowed in 22 patients. Abnormalities of bronchial airways on CT were associated with peribronchial cuffs of soft tissue or surrounding lymph nodes. In 17 patients, active tuberculous infection was confirmed either bacteriologically (n=15) and/or histologically (n=8). Pathologic study of the lesion obtained by bronchoscopic biopsy or thoracotomy showed dense bronchial and/or peribronchial fibrosis with interspersed black pigments.
Conclusions: These findings strongly suggest that bronchial stenosis or obliteration with anthracotic pigmentation in the mucosa was caused by a fibrotic response to active or old tuberculous infection. To prevent the spread of tuberculosis and avoid unnecessary invasive procedures, detailed examinations for the presence of active tuberculosis should be performed in patients with this unique bronchoscopic finding.