Background: Methods relying on nasal ciliary motility for the diagnosis of primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) are often hampered by secondary ciliary dyskinesia. A functional test for pulmonary mucociliary clearance, which is not influenced by secondary nasal ciliary defects, would be a valuable tool in a PCD workup.
Methods: The diagnostic validity and repeatability of a pulmonary radioaerosol mucociliary clearance (PRMC) test for the diagnosis of PCD was assessed in the following three sequentially performed substudies: (1) a preliminary cross-sectional study of PRMC in patients with known PCD; (2) a prospective blinded trial of patients referred for suspicion of PCD; and (3) an implementation study of PRMC as a routine method used in a PCD workup. PRMC was studied after 99mTc-albumin colloid aerosol inhalation, and the results were compared to (1) the results of nasal ciliary motility studies, (2) ciliary ultrastructure, and (3) the final clinical diagnosis. The repeatability of PRMC was assessed in 14 patients.
Results: A total of 95 patients, 5 to 74 years of age, were included in the study (57 patients in whom PCD was diagnosed, 26 non-PCD patients, and 12 patients referred for PCD workup without a conclusive workup result). In substudy 1, 14 of 15 patients with known PCD showed impaired PRMC; the results were inconclusive in 1 patient. In substudy 2, among 59 patients referred for PCD workup PRMC test results, compared to nasal ciliary motility, showed a sensitivity of 88% and a specificity of 100%. In substudy 3, among 21 patients referred for PCD investigation who were included in a routine PCD workup after PRMC implementation, 71% of PRMC test results were in alignment with nasal ciliary motility. Repeatability of interpretation was seen in 13 of 14 cases. A conclusive PRMC after only one test was found in 81 of 95 patients (85%).
Conclusion: PRMC is a noninvasive functional test for total tracheobronchial mucociliary clearance with a high sensitivity and specificity for PCD, a high rate of conclusive results after only one test and a further ability to separate PCD from focal pulmonary mucociliary defects.