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Editorials |

Valid Information From Sputum : Don’t Throw Out the Baby With the Bath Water

Sanford Chodosh, MD, FCCP (Boston, MA)
Author and Funding Information

Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, Boston; and Boston University School of Medicine.

Correspondence to: Sanford Chodosh, MD, FCCP, Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, 251 Causeway Street, Room 815, Boston, MA 02114



Chest. 1999;116(1):6-8. doi:10.1378/chest.116.1.6
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Extract

The investigation by Rubin that appears in this issue of CHEST (see page 195) brings to our attention the potential value, as well as the difficulties, of studying the sputum expectorated by patients. Sputum provides pathologic material that is a direct reflection of the disease process that led to its production in the bronchopulmonary system. When produced, sputum is always abnormal, and it provides a recurring “biopsy” of the pathophysiologic process. The knowledge to be gained from sputum was well appreciated from the end of the 19th century through the 1920s and had been comprehensively compiled by von Hoesslin in 19261 and by Benzançon and DeJong in 1913.2 More recent reviews have been edited by Dulfano in 19733 and by Takishima and Shimura in 1994.4


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