Pleural effusion as the initial clinical presentation in disseminated cryptococcosis and fungaemia: an unusual manifestation and a literature review

Mayun Chen; Xiaomi Wang; Xianjuan Yu; Caijun Dai; Dunshun Chen; Chang Yu; Xiaomei Xu; Dan Yao; Li Yang; Yuping Li; Liangxing Wang; Xiaoying Huang; Chen, Mayun; Wang, Xiaomi; Yu, Xianjuan; Dai, Caijun; Chen, Dunshun; Yu, Chang; Xu, Xiaomei; Yao, Dan
September 2015
BMC Infectious Diseases;9/23/2015, Vol. 15 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
journal article
Background: Cryptococcus neoformans infection usually presents as chronic meningitis and is increasingly being recognized in immunocompromised patients. Presentation with pleural effusion is rare in cryptococcal disease; in fact, only 4 cases of pleural effusion as the initial clinical presentation in cryptococcosis have been reported in English-language literature to date. We report the first case of pleural effusion as the initial clinical presentation in a renal transplant recipient who was initially misdiagnosed with tuberculous pleuritis but who then developed fungaemia and disseminated cryptococcosis. The examination of this rare manifestation and the accompanying literature review will contribute to increased recognition of the disease and a reduction in misdiagnoses.Case Presentation: We describe a 63-year-old male renal transplant recipient on an immunosuppressive regimen who was admitted for left pleural effusion and fever. Cytological examinations and pleural fluid culture were nonspecific and negative. Thoracoscopy only found chronic, nonspecific inflammation with fibrosis in the pleura. After empirical anti-tuberculous therapy, the patient developed an elevated temperature, a severe headache and vomiting and fainted in the ward. Cryptococci were specifically found in the cerebrospinal fluid following lumbar puncture. Blood cultures were twice positive for C. neoformans one week later. He was transferred to the respiratory intensive care unit (RICU) immediately and was placed on non-invasive ventilation for respiratory failure for 2 days. He developed meningoencephalitis and fungaemia with C. neoformans during hospitalization. He was given amphotericin B liposome combined with 5-flucytosine and voriconazole for first 11 days, then amphotericin B liposome combined with 5-flucytosine sustained to 8 weeks, after that changed to fluconazole for maintenance. His condition improved after antifungal treatment, non-invasive ventilation and other support. Further pathological consultation and periodic acid-Schiff staining revealed Cryptococcus organisms in pleural sections, providing reliable evidence for cryptococcal pleuritis.Conclusion: Pleural effusion is an unusual manifestation of cryptococcosis. Cryptococcal infection must be considered in the case of patients on immunosuppressives, especially solid-organ transplant recipients, who present with pleural effusion, even if pleural fluid culture is negative. Close communication between the pathologist and the clinician, multiple special biopsy section stains and careful review are important and may contribute to decreasing misdiagnosis.


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