• Vol. 50 No. 7, 556–565
  • 15 July 2021

Heterogeneity of non-cystic-fibrosis bronchiectasis in multiethnic Singapore: A prospective cohort study at a tertiary pulmonology centre



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Introduction: Non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis (NCFB) is a highly heterogenous disease. We describe the clinical characteristics of NCFB patients and evaluate the performance of Bronchiectasis Severity Index (BSI) in predicting mortality. Methods: Patients attending the bronchiectasis clinic between August 2015 and April 2020 with radiologically proven bronchiectasis on computed tomography were recruited. Clinical characteristics, spirometry, radiology, microbiology and clinical course over a median period of 2.4 years is presented. Results: A total of 168 patients were enrolled in this prospective cohort study. They were predominantly women (67.8%), Chinese (87.5%) and never-smokers (76.9%). Median age of diagnosis was 64 years (interquartile range 56–71) and the most common aetiology was “idiopathic” bronchiectasis (44.6%). Thirty-nine percent had normal spirometries. Compared to female patients, there were more smokers among the male patients (53.8% versus 8.5%, P<0.001) and a significantly larger proportion with post-tuberculous bronchiectasis (37.0% vs 15.8%, P=0.002). Fifty-five percent of our cohort had a history of haemoptysis. Lower body mass index, presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ever-smoker status, modified Reiff score, radiological severity and history of exacerbations were risk factors for mortality. Survival was significantly shorter in patients with severe bronchiectasis (BSI>9) compared to those with mild or moderate disease (BSI<9). The hazard ratio for severe disease (BSI>9) compared to mild disease (BSI 0–4) was 14.8 (confidence interval 1.929–114.235, P=0.01). Conclusion: The NCFB cohort in Singapore has unique characteristics with sex differences. Over half the patients had a history of haemoptysis. The BSI score is a useful predictor of mortality in our population.

Bronchiectasis is a chronic lung disease of significant morbidity and mortality. The pathological hallmarks of the disease are abnormal dilatation of airways resulting from recurrent inflammation, airway obstruction and mucous plugging. The past 2 decades have seen a significant increase in its prevalence, exceeding the threshold of 5 per 10,000 persons for the definition of an “orphan disease”.

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