Bronchiolitis Obliterans with Organizing Pneumonia (BOOP)

Last Updated 11/02/2020

Author:Amy Hajari Case, MD, FCCP

About Bronchiolitis Obliterans with Organizing Pneumonia

Key facts about Bronchiolitis Obliterans with Organizing Pneumonia
  • Bronchiolitis obliterans with organizing pneumonia (BOOP) is a rare type of lung damage.
  • BOOP has many possible causes. Often, the cause is unknown.
  • Although pneumonia is in the name, BOOP is not an infection.
  • The most common symptoms of BOOP include:
  • Steroid medicines, such as prednisone, are the most common treatment for BOOP.

Bronchiolitis obliterans with organizing pneumonia (BOOP) is a rare lung condition. In BOOP, the very small airways (bronchioles) and air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs become inflamed.

BOOP has many different causes, including:

  • Toxic effects of medicine you take;
  • Radiation treatment;
  • Autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis); and
  • Certain types of lung infection.

Sometimes, a cause for BOOP can’t be found. In this case, the term cryptogenic organizing pneumonia is used.

Most cases of BOOP do not involve lung scarring (fibrosis). The injury pattern seen in BOOP can be confirmed with a lung biopsy. A lung doctor (or pulmonologist) will ask you about the following:

  • Other medical problems you take
  • Environmental factors
  • Your past and present jobs
  • Your lung function

The doctor may then do tests and take X-rays before ordering a lung biopsy.

How BOOP affects your body

Symptoms of BOOP vary with the cause of the lung injury. Symptoms can begin gradually, over a few weeks to months. Most patients show the following symptoms:

Some patients also have flu-like symptoms, with fever and sore throat at the start of their illness. BOOP can limit how much air you can breathe in, causing low oxygen levels in your blood.

How serious is BOOP?

BOOP can cause severe lung damage. It may require you to go to the hospital.

Most cases are treated with steroid drugs that ease the inflamed lung tissue.

BOOP may be related to another medical problem. If so, treating that disease will be an important part of treating BOOP.

If your case resulted from exposure to a drug or something you breathed in that harmed you, you will need to stop being exposed to those substances.

Most people recover after their symptoms are treated and their lungs begin to work better.

Sometimes, BOOP comes back (relapses) after treatment. It can even cause other diseases that get worse over time, like lung fibrosis.