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Evidence of mycobacterial disease in COPD patients with lung volume reduction surgery; the importance of histological assessment of specimens: a cohort study

Anjali Char1, Nick S Hopkinson23, David M Hansell23, Andrew G Nicholson23, Emily C Shaw2, Samuel J Clark2, Philip Sedgwick1, Robert Wilson23, Simon Jordan2 and Michael R Loebinger23*

Author Affiliations

1 St. George’s, University of London, London, UK

2 Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

3 National Heart and Lung institute, Imperial College, London, UK

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BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2014, 14:124  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-14-124

Published: 2 August 2014



Patients with COPD are at risk of non-tuberculous mycobacterial infection (NTM). This study examined the histology of lung tissue from COPD patients following lung volume reduction with particular focus on evidence of mycobacterial infection.


Retrospective histological study of 142 consecutive lung volume reduction surgical specimens (126 separate patients) at Royal Brompton Hospital between 2000 – 2013, with prospectively collected preoperative data on exacerbation rate, lung function and body mass index.


92% of patients had at least one other histological diagnosis in addition to emphysema. 10% of specimens had histological evidence of mycobacterial infection, one with co-existent aspergilloma. Mycobacteria were only identified in those patients with granulomas that were necrotising. These patients had higher exacerbation rates, lower TLCO and FEV1.


A proportion of severe COPD patients will have evidence of mycobacterial infection despite lack of clinical and radiological suspicion. This may have implications for long-term management of these patients.

COPD; Mycobacterium; Non tuberculous mycobacterium (NTM); Lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS)