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What is an Aspergilloma?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2016
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An aspergilloma is a fungus ball that exists in a cavity in the body. Most commonly, the mass of fungus is found in a lung cavity. When found in this primary location, the condition is known as pulmonary aspergilloma. It is possible for the fungi to be found in other parts of the body, such as a kidney or brain cavity. Another commonly used name for an aspergilloma is a mycetoma.

Generally, a fungal infection causes an aspergilloma. The infection is typically caused by a type of fungus known as aspergillus. Usually, aspergillus is found in bird droppings, on decaying vegetables and dead leaves. As the fungus spreads in the body cavity, an abscess or ball of fungus can form. Although, it is not as common, it is possible for the fungus ball to be caused by a bacteria.

When a person has an aspergilloma in a lung cavity, there are some health disorders that may predispose an individual to this particular condition. One example of this may be existing abscesses in the lungs. Cystic fibrosis may also lead to the formation of the fungus balls. This is a very common lung disease which causes mucus to heavily align the lungs. Other conditions which may lead to aspergillomas include lung cancer and tuberculosis.

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The symptoms of an aspergilloma can differ. Some individuals may have a very persistent cough. Often, blood may be coughed up in varying degrees. Other common symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pains, wheezing and a fever. Additionally, a person may begin to lose weight although he or she is not actively trying to. In certain incidences, there may be no distinctive warning symptoms.

There are certain tests that may be performed to diagnose an aspergilloma. Initially, an individual may have a chest X-ray done. He or she may also go through an additional diagnostic test such as a chest computerized tomography (CT) scan. Blood tests will also be performed. These tests will be done to examine the blood for aspergillus fungi.

Individuals with an aspergilloma who are asymptomatic may need little to no treatment. When treatment is needed, physicians commonly prescribe antifungal medications. In the event that the ball or mass is caused by a bacteria, an antibacterial-based medication may be administered. If an individual is experiencing severe symptoms, more advanced treatment may be deemed necessary.

Surgery may be done to treat aspergillomas. If a person is coughing up extremely large quantities of blood, surgery may be needed on the lungs. Sometimes, the fungal infection can spread into the limbs. This may lead to destruction of limb tissues, which can be so devastating, an amputation may be necessary. Although, it is an option for treatment, surgery is usually only performed in the event of severely complicated or life-threatening symptoms.

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