Bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia

Bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia
Bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia
Classification and external resources

Micrograph showing a Masson body (off center left/bottom of the image - pale circular and paucicellular), as may be seen in bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia. The Masson body plugs the airway. The artery associated with the obliterated airway is also seen (far left of the image). H&E stain.
ICD-10 J84.8
ICD-9 516.36
DiseasesDB 31684
eMedicine radio/117
MeSH D018549

Bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia (BOOP) is an inflammation of the bronchioles (bronchiolitis)[1] and surrounding tissue in the lungs. It is an non infectious pneumonia.[2] BOOP is often caused by a pre-existing chronic inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis. BOOP can also be a side effect of certain medicinal drugs, e.g. amiodarone. BOOP was discovered by Dr. Gary Epler in 1985 [3].

It is also known as cryptogenic organizing pneumonia (COP),[4][5] and some sources recommend using the latter term, to reduce confusion with bronchiolitis obliterans.[6]

The clinical features and radiological imaging resemble infectious pneumonia. However, diagnosis is suspected after there is no response to multiple antibiotics, and blood and sputum cultures are negative for organisms.



"Organizing" refers to unresolved pneumonia (in which the alveolar exudate persists and eventually undergoes fibrosis) in which fibrous tissue forms in the alveoli. The phase of resolution and/or remodeling following bacterial infections is commonly referred to as organizing pneumonia, both clinically and pathologically.

Signs and symptoms

  • cough
  • dyspnea
  • influenza-like symptoms
  • febrile illness
  • widespread crackles
  • mild resting hypoxemia


COP/BOOP may be triggered by infections from bacteria, viruses and parasites, drugs, or toxic fumes. It was identified in 1985, although its symptoms had been noted before but not recognised as a separate lung disease. The risk of BOOP is higher for people with inflammatory diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma.


On clinical examination, crackles are common, and more rarely, patients may have clubbing. Laboratory findings are nonspecific.

Almost 75% of people have symptoms for less than two months before seeking medical attention. A flu-like illness, with a cough, fever, a feeling of illness (malaise), fatigue, and weight loss heralds the onset in about 40% of patients. Doctors do not find any specific abnormalities on routine laboratory tests or on a physical examination, except for the frequent presence of crackling sounds (called rales) when the doctor listens with a stethoscope. Pulmonary function tests usually show that the amount of air the lungs can hold is below normal. The amount of oxygen in the blood is often low at rest and is even lower with exercise.


The chest x-ray is distinctive with features that appear similar to an extensive pneumonia, with both lungs showing widespread white patches. The white patches may seem to migrate from one area of the lung to another as the disease persists or progresses. Computed Tomography (CT) may be used to confirm the diagnosis. Often the findings are typical enough to allow the doctor to make a diagnosis without ordering additional tests. To confirm the diagnosis, a doctor may perform a lung biopsy using a bronchoscope. Many times, a larger specimen is needed and must be removed surgically.

Plain chest radiography shows normal lung volumes, with characteristic patchy unilateral or bilateral consolidation. Small nodular opacities occur in up to 50% of patients and large nodules in 15%. On high resolution computed tomography, airspace consolidation with air bronchograms is present in more than 90% of patients, often with a lower zone predominance A subpleural or peribronchiolar distribution is noted in up to 50% of patients. Ground glass appearance or hazy opacities associated with the consolidation are detected in most patients.

Pulmonary physiology is restrictive with a reduced diffusion capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide (DLCO). Airflow limitation is uncommon; gas exchange is usually abnormal and mild hypoxemia is common. Bronchoscopy with bronchoalveolar lavage reveals up to 40% lymphocytes, along with more subtle increases in neutrophils and eosinophils. In patients with typical clinical and radiographic features, a transbronchial biopsy that shows the pathologic pattern of organizing pneumonia and lacks features of an alternative diagnosis is adequate to make a tentative diagnosis and start therapy. On surgical lung biopsy, the histopathologic pattern is organizing pneumonia with preserved lung architecture; this pattern is not exclusive to BOOP and must be interpreted in the clinical context.


Most patients recover with corticosteroid therapy.[7] A standardized approach to dosing starting at 0.75 mg/kg and weaning over 24 weeks has been shown to reduce total corticosteroid exposure without affecting outcome.

About two thirds of patients recover with corticosteroid therapy: the usual steroid administered is prednisolone in Europe and prednisone in the USA; these differ by only one functional group and have the same clinical effect. The steroid is initially administered in high dosage, typically 50 mg per day tapering down to zero over a six-month to one-year period. If the steroid treatment is halted too quickly the disease may return. Other drugs must be taken to counteract side effects of the steroid.


Reported incidence is 0.01%, but COP may be more common and underdiagnosed. It usually begins between the ages of 40 and 60 and affects men and women equally. It kills about 7%, although these tend to be the elderly or those in poor health from other conditions.


  1. ^ "bronchiolitis obliterans with organizing pneumonia" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  2. ^ White, Eric J. Stern, Charles S. (1999). Chest radiology companion. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 76. ISBN 9780397517329. 
  3. ^ Epler GR. (2011). "Bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia, 25 years: a variety of causes, but what are the treatment options?". Expert Rev Respir Med. 3: 353-61. PMID url= 21702658 url= 
  4. ^ Alasaly K, Muller N, Ostrow DN, Champion P, FitzGerald JM (July 1995). "Cryptogenic organizing pneumonia. A report of 25 cases and a review of the literature". Medicine (Baltimore) 74 (4): 201–11. doi:10.1097/00005792-199507000-00004. PMID 7623655. 
  5. ^ Geddes DM (August 1991). "BOOP and COP". Thorax 46 (8): 545–7. doi:10.1136/thx.46.8.545. PMC 463266. PMID 1926020. 
  6. ^ Cotran, Ramzi S.; Kumar, Vinay; Fausto, Nelson; Nelso Fausto; Robbins, Stanley L.; Abbas, Abul K. (2005). Robbins and Cotran pathologic basis of disease. St. Louis, Mo: Elsevier Saunders. pp. 731. ISBN 0-7216-0187-1. 
  7. ^ Oymak FS, Demirbaş HM, Mavili E, et al. (2005). "Bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia. Clinical and roentgenological features in 26 cases". Respiration 72 (3): 254–62. doi:10.1159/000085366. PMID 15942294. 

External links

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