According to a recent study presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress 2023, increasing sputum purulence in patients with bronchiectasis is associated with inflammation and can predict outcomes. Researchers from the University of Dundee collected long-term data using a 4-point sputum color chart to assess patients enrolled in the EMBARC registry, which reviews bronchiectasis patients annually.
The study included 19,324 patients from 31 countries, with 13,484 reporting regular sputum expectoration and providing sputum color grades. The distribution of sputum colors among the patients was as follows: 40.4% mucoid, 39.9% mucopurulent, 18.4% purulent, and 1.3% severe purulent. The researchers discovered that patients with more purulent sputum had higher Bronchiectasis Severity Index scores, lower forced expiratory volume in 1 second, and more frequent chronic infection, including with Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The baseline sputum color was found to be a strong predictor of future exacerbations during a five-year follow-up. Patients with more purulent sputum experienced a higher incidence of exacerbations compared to those with mucoid sputum. Similar results were observed for severe exacerbations requiring hospitalization. The study also revealed a significant increase in mortality with increasing sputum purulence.
Lead researcher Megan Crichton emphasizes the significance of these findings, stating that sputum samples are easily collected and the color serves as a useful indicator for disease progression. This makes sputum a readily available and easy-to-interpret clinical biomarker for predicting outcomes in bronchiectasis patients.
The results of this study highlight the importance of monitoring sputum purulence in patients with bronchiectasis. Assessing sputum color can provide valuable insights into the severity of inflammation and likelihood of exacerbations. Early detection of increased purulence can prompt timely intervention and improved management of the condition.
– European Respiratory Society International Congress 2023
– University of Dundee