May 5, 2011

Stents relieve post-infection problem

Placing stents in blood vessels can provide long-term relief from rare complications of a fungal lung infection.

Blood vessels (iStockPhoto)
(iStock Photo)

Placing stents in blood vessels damaged by complications of previous fungal lung infection can provide long-term relief, Erin Albers and colleagues report in the April 5 issue of Circulation.

Decades after infection with the soil-dwelling fungus Histoplasma capsulatum, patients can develop a rare complication – called fibrosing mediastinitis – that compresses airways and blood vessels in the chest, causing symptoms like cough, chest pain and labored breathing. There have been no treatments shown to provide long-term benefit.

In 2001, Thomas Doyle and colleagues reported that placing stents in the affected vessels provided immediate clinical improvement in four patients. The investigators have now analyzed data from more than 40 patients who had this procedure between 1996 and 2008. They found that 87 percent of patients reported substantial improvement in their symptoms following stent placement. The results suggest that stents can provide not only short-term symptom relief, but also sustained clinical improvement for patients with this rare condition.