Last reviewed 01/2018

A number of underlying conditions may be responsible for the development of bronchiectasis, although in 50% adults and in 25% children it is idiopathic (1).

Focal bronchiectasis may be caused by:

  • bronchial obstruction - foreign body, broncholith, a slowly growing tumor, anatomic distortion following lobectomy, enlarged lymphnode
  • severe case of respiratory infection (2)

Diffuse bronchiectasis may be caused by:

  • cystic fibrosis
  • primary ciliary dyskinesia
  • allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA)
  • aspiration or toxic inhalation
  • inflammatory disorders - rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease
  • decreased host immunity - hypogammaglobulinaemia, HIV infection
  • congenital disorders - alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, Marfan's syndrome, Young's syndrome (2)

The causes of bronchiectasis may be classified into five main groups:

  • defective host defences
  • localised bronchial obstruction
  • post-infectious
  • inflammatory disorders
  • miscellaneous

British thoracic society recommends that the underlying cause of bronchiectasis should be assessed in all patients (3).