There’s a Fungus Among Us

A 53 year old man with history of stroke, alcoholism, heart failure, hypertension, and atrophic right kidney presented to the ED with acute urinary retention and complained of dysuria and frequency. He was afebrile, denied nausea/vomiting or headaches. His labs at admission are listed below:

  • WBC: 21 k
  • Na: 122
  • Cr: 3 (baseline 1.2)

Urinalysis showed innumerable white blood cells, leukocyte esterase 3+ and negative nitrite.

A catheter was placed and drained 1 L of yellow cloudy urine. The patient refused admission and he was prescribed ciprofloxacin 500 mg BID empirically and was sent home with a foley catheter in place with plans to follow up with Urology. He returned to the ED the following day because his foley catheter was not draining urine and he noted leaking around his catheter. CT scan was obtained and showed ill-defined areas of increased and decreased attenuation within the urinary bladder lumen and left hydroureteronephrosis.

fungusball1

Urine cultures obtained during his initial presentation grew >100,000 yeast and he was treated with fluconazole. The patient was taken to the operating room 11 days after first presentation to diagnose and treat the mass in the bladder. A tan-brown mass was removed and send to surgical pathology. Representative section (H&E stain) of the specimen is shown below:

fungusball2

Which of the following statements regarding Candiduria is true?

  1. Most patients with candiduria are asymptomatic and the yeasts merely represent colonization
  2. The presence of pseudohyphae in the urine or the number of colonies growing in culture help to distinguish colonization from infection
  3. The most commonly involved organ in disseminated candidiasis is the heart
  4. There is a higher propensity for fungal ball formation in adults than children

The correct answer is 1. Most patients with candiduria are asymptomatic and the yeast merely represent colonization. Infected patients may have symptoms (dysuria, frequency, suprapubic discomfort) while others might not. Pyuria is so common in patients with a chronic indwelling bladder catheter that it cannot be used to indicate infection.

Neither the presence of pseudohyphae in the urine nor the number of colonies growing in culture (unlike bacterial cultures) help to distinguish colonization from infection. Ascending infections are rare but usually subacute or chronic, unilateral and can cause perinephric abscesses.

Fungus balls in adults are uncommon with less than 10 adult cases reported in the literature. Risk factors include uncontrolled diabetes, prolonged use of antibiotics or steroids and immune compromise. Classic laboratory findings include marked leukocytosis, pyuria, hematuria and a concomitant bacterial urinary tract infection. Most cases are caused by Candida species although Aspergillus has been implicated in a few cases.

The kidneys are the most commonly involved organ in disseminated candidiasis and there is a higher propensity of fungus ball formation in neonates.

-Agnes Balla, MD is a 1st year anatomic and clinical pathology resident at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Wojewoda-small

-Christi Wojewoda, MD, is the Director of Clinical Microbiology at the University of Vermont Medical Center and an Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont.

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