Feature Article

Bronchiectasis: an often misdiagnosed condition

Rob G Stirling



Bronchiectasis affects many patients with established lung disease as well as most patients with cystic fibrosis. It is often not diagnosed in non-CF patients, and seeking and confirming the diagnosis in these patients allows the provision of disease-appropriate treatment, with major potential benefit.

Key Points

  • Bronchiectasis frequently mimics common diseases such as COPD, asthma and chronic cough.
  • Confirming a diagnosis of bronchiectasis enables the provision of disease-appropriate treatments and cessation of inappropriate treatments.
  • Airway clearance and mucoactive therapies are key to improved outcomes, reduced exacerbations and improved quality of life.
  • Treatment with antibiotics is important for eradication of bacteria from the airways, exacerbation management and long-term suppression of microbial colonists in the airways. It can be complex, given the multiple organisms possibly present.
  • A diagnosis and management plan created in co-operation with respiratory physicians and respiratory physiotherapists can help simplify and improve management.