Cáceres Corner Case 227 – Vignette

Dear friends, starting today I plan to show simple teaching cases (vignettes) hoping to ease the boredom of the confinement.
I will show two cases every week (Monday and Thursday). To make the presentation more agile the diagnosis will be included. If you get impatient all you have to do is press the answer button.

The first case is a routine control PA radiograph in a 67-year-old woman operated on for breast carcinoma three years ago.

Question: Do you suspect any bone metastasis?

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Findings: There is an apparent lytic lesion in the distal end of the right clavicle (A, arrow), better seen in the cone down view (B, arrow).

When I saw this case two months ago, I could not determine whether the lesion was real or not. What would you do?
1. Compare with previous films
2. Call the oncologist
4. Bone scintigraphy

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In my opinion, the first thing to do was comparing with previous films although
this brilliant idea was hampered by the technician placing the marker in top of the distal clavicle in two earlier radiographs (C-D).

What would you do now?
1. Bone scintigraphy
2. Call the oncologist
4. CT

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Since I was not sure about the lesion, I decided to call the oncologist to find out if she suspected any metastasis and if the patient had any pain in the right acromioclavicular area. The answer was negative. What would you recommend?

1. Bone scintigraphy
2. CT
4. Radiograph of the right clavicle

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In my opinion the fastest way to clarify the diagnosis was to take a radiograph of both clavicles (with the left for comparison). The distal end of the right clavicle has a normal appearance and , since the patient had no local symptoms, no further studies were needed.

Final diagnosis: normal variant simulating pathology in an oncologic patient

I have seen several chest radiographs with apparent lytic lesion of the distal clavicle that turned out to be normal. It is described in the Atlas of normal variants by Keats. In this case I was doubtful because the patient had a carcinoma and the appearance of the lesion was ominous.
There are two teaching points in this case:
1. Talking to the referring physician is important to determine the management of findings.
2. A simple and inexpensive procedure clarified the diagnosis and avoided unnecessary additional studies.

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