Cáceres Corner Case 228 – Vignette

Dear Friends,

Today I am showing a preoperative chest radiograph for varices of a 60-year-old woman.
Do you see any abnormality?
If so, where is it?

1. Lung
2. Mediastinum
3. Pleura/chest wall
4. Don’t see it

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Findings: There are bilateral convex opacities in the lower mediastinum (A, arrows), better seen in the cone down view (B, arrows). The appearance suggests a lower central mediastinal mass and the most likely diagnosis should be hiatus hernia. A fact against this diagnosis is the gastric fornix in its normal location (A, red arrow).

What would you recommend:

1. Lateral view of the chest
2. Esophagogram
3. Chest CT
4. None of the above

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In my opinion, the best choice is a lateral view, which shows poor definition of the body of the eleventh dorsal vertebra with a sharp angulation of the spine (C, circle). There is no evidence of hiatus hernia.

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AP cone down view of the lower thoracic spine shows a butterfly deformity of D11 (D, circle) with the outer borders accounting for the convexities visible in the chest radiograph. Lateral cone down view confirms marked flattening and collapse of the vertebral body (E, circle)

The patient had been involved in a car accident five years ago resulting in a burst compression fracture of D11. Comparison with previous radiographs did nor show any change.

Final diagnosis: Traumatic compression fracture of D11, stable

Teaching point: Remember that not all opacities in the lower mediastinum in the PA view are hiatus hernias. A lateral view places them in the correct compartment and helps to clarify the etiology.

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