Background: Cryptococcus neoformans can cause serious systemic infections requiring systemic antifungal therapy in immunocompromised hosts. However, isolated pulmonary cryptococcosis in nonimmunocompromised hosts has been reported to resolve spontaneously without treatment.
Study objectives: To determine the role of antifungal therapy in the management of isolated pulmonary cryptococcosis in nonimmunocompromised hosts.
Design: Retrospective study.
Setting: Tertiary care, referral medical center
Patients: Thirty-six nonimmunocompromised subjects with isolated pulmonary cryptococcosis who received diagnoses at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN) from 1976 to 2001.
Measurements and results: Of 42 nonimmunocompromised subjects with cryptococcal infections, 36 (86%) had isolated pulmonary cryptococcosis. The mean (± SD) age of these 36 patients was 61 ± 15 years (range, 14 to 88 years), and the groups included 17 men (47%) and 19 women (53%). Twenty-four patients (67%) were symptomatic, and 12 patients (33%) were asymptomatic. The most common presenting symptoms were cough, dyspnea, and fever. Cultures of sputum and bronchial washings most commonly yielded the diagnosis. Cerebrospinal fluid examination was performed in 11 patients (31%) and was negative in all of them. Follow-up information was available on 25 patients (69%) with a median duration of 19 months (range, 1 to 330 months). Twenty-three of these patients (92%) had resolution of their disease (no treatment, 8 patients; surgical resection only, 6 patients; and antifungal therapy, 9 patients). The condition of the two remaining patients had improved. There was no documented treatment failure, relapse, dissemination, or death in any of these 25 patients.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that an initial period of observation without the administration of antifungal therapy is a reasonable option for nonimmunocompromised subjects with pulmonary cryptococcosis in the absence of systemic symptoms or evidence of dissemination, as well as after surgical resection for focal cryptococcal pneumonia.