Dr. Pepe’s Diploma Casebook: CASE 137 – MEET THE EXAMINER

Dear Friends,

since we have the European Congress of Radiology this week, I don’t want to stress you unnecessarily. I have selected a “Meet the Examiner” presentation, with questions and answers similar to a real examination. You will get the final answer at the end of the presentation.

Take your time before seeking the answer. And no peeking!

This case was provided by my friend and co-worker Dr. Lucía Hernandez. The patient is a 39-year-old woman who had a tumorectomy for carcinoma of the right breast in March 2008. In February 2009 she noticed a lump in her right axilla. Breast MRI was performed.

What would be your diagnosis:

1. Necrotic lymph node
2. Metastasis
3. Fibrotic tissue
4. None of the above

Click here to see the images

Click here to see the answer

Findings: The MRI finding was interpreted as an enlarged lymph node in the right axillary area, around 35 mm in diameter and with a necrotic center (A and B, arrows).

Ultrasound exam demonstrated a longitudinal echogenic band of about 40 mm in length, suggestive of postsurgical changes. No adenopathy was found.
Fine-needle biopsy returned nonspecific findings, no signs of malignancy.

In view of these results, no action was taken.

The patient returned yearly for follow-up MRI and US studies, which showed no significant changes from the initial examination.

Ten years later, in January 2019, the patient detected a discrete ulceration in the right axilla and consulted her doctor. A new MRI examination was done.

What do you think?

Click here to see the answer

MRI showed a slight increase in the size of the lesion from 35 mm maximum diameter in 2009 (A, arrow) to 40 mm in 2019 (B, arrow). US showed no changes in comparison with previous studies. PET-CT study was ordered.

Click here to see the PET-CT

What do you see?

Click here to see the answer

The study was interpreted as a rounded axillary image with low peripheral uptake (SUV 4) (A-C, arrows). The high-density linear opacity in the center was overlooked (B, yellow arrow).

Click here to see more studies

At this stage of the game, all imaging studies were reviewed, including the chest radiographs.

Below are postoperative chest radiographs taken in March 2009. What do you see?

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Chest radiographs show a radio-opaque marker in the right axilla (A and B, arrows). The appearance is typical of a retained surgical gauze.

The findings are better seen in the cone down views (C and D, arrows). A cone down view of the axilla with the arm outstretched taken in 2019 clearly shows the axillary mass (E, black arrows) and the radio-opaque marked gauze within (E, red arrow).

Enhanced axial CT also shows the typical appearance of encapsulated surgical gauze (A and B, white arrows), with the radio-opaque marker inside (A and B, red arrows). Confirmed at surgery.

Final diagnosis: Retained surgical gauze in the right axilla

Retained surgical gauzes are occasionally seen in abdominal surgery, but are less common in the chest. I have encountered only one other case (See Fig. 1, below). Nonetheless, they are easily identified by their radio-opaque markers. Early detection of this material avoids unnecessary examinations and prevents future complications, as occurred in the patient presented.

As a chest radiologist, it makes me proud that proper reading of a chest radiograph achieved a diagnosis that prompted 2 biopsies, 9 MRI, 9 sonographies, and 1 PET-CT over 10 years.
It is interesting to note that a normal gauze count does not exclude the possibility of a retained gauze. In one series, the count was reported as correct in 22 of 29 patients (76%) with retained gauzes in the abdomen (Kaiser CW, Friedman S, Spurling KP, Slowick T, Kaiser HA. The retained surgical sponge. Ann Surg 1996;224:79–84).

Fig. 1. 58-year-old man with fever after cardiac surgery. PA radiograph was unremarkable. Lateral view shows a radio-opaque marker in the posterior heart shadow (A, arrow), better depicted in the cone down view (B, arrow), with the typical appearance of a retained gauze. CT confirms the presence of the gauze in the pericardial cavity (C, arrow). Proved at surgery.

Follow Dr. Pepe’s advice:

1. Retained surgical gauzes are easily identified by their radio-opaque markers.

2. Early discovery prevents complications and unnecessary examinations.

Cáceres Corner Case 199 – SOLVED!

Dear Friends,
Today´s case is provided by my good friend Alberto Villanueva.

PA radiograph belong to a 58-year-old man with cough and weight loss. Gastrectomy for stomach cancer in 2006. A previous film is shown for comparison.

Do you see any abnormality?

More images will be shown on Wednesday

Click here to see the images shown on Monday

Dear Friends,

showing a PA chest radiograph taken three months later.

What do you see?

Click here to see the new image

Click here to see the answer

Findings: PA radiograph taken in February 2018 shows an area of increased opacity in the subcarinal region (A, red arrows), more evident when compared with a previous film of 2014 (B). This finding was not detected.

Three months later the patient returned with increasing dyspnea. PA chest radiograph shows the typical appearance of RLL collapse, evidenced by a basal triangular shadow (C, arrow), downward hilar displacement (C, yellow arrow) and tracheal displacement. The subcarinal mass is now more evident (C, red arrow). Enhanced coronal CT shows the central mass (D, red arrows) as well as the RLL collapse (D, arrow).

Final diagnosis: oat-cell tumor of the lung

Congratulations to Elisa and Krister A, who were the first to detect the subcarinal mass in the initial examination
Teaching point: most of you detected the subcarinal mass that was missed in the original reading. This case emphasizes the importance of comparing with previous films to detect subtle findings.

Cáceres Corner Case 198 – SOLVED!

Dear Friends,

Today I’m presenting chest radiographs of a 28-year-old man with severe headache and high blood pressure (201/110 mmHg).

What do you see?

Click here to see the see the images


Pulses were weaker in the lower extremities.

Click here to see the see the answer

Findings: Chest radiographs show a moderate cardiomegaly. There is pulmonary vascular redistribution, with the upper vessels (A, red circles) larger that the lower ones (A, blue circles), indicating an early stage of left cardiac failure.
The information of weak pulses in the lower extremities is important. This finding suggests impeded blood flow in the thoracic aorta, the most common cause being aortic coarctation. The small aortic knob and the lack of rib notching go against it, though.

CT angiogram shows narrowing and complete interruption of the distal thoracic aorta (C-E, circles), with abundant collateral circulation. The mid-aortic syndrome usually happens in children and young adults. The etiologies vary. In this particular case, biopsy confirmed Takayasu arteritis.

An aortic graft was placed to circumvent the obstruction (F-G, arrows).

Final diagnosis: Mid-aortic syndrome secondary to Takayasu arteritis
Congratulations to Ner, who made the correct diagnosis and to Krister A who was the first to suggest aortic obstruction.
Teaching point: in a young person with severe hypertension, distal pulses should be checked. If weak, aortic coarctation should be suspected. If the telltale signs of coarctation are missing, mid-aortic syndrome should be considered.

Cáceres’ Corner Case 197 – SOLVED!

Dear Friends;

Today I am showing a preoperative PA chest radiograph for knee surgery in a 50-year-old woman. More images will be shown on Wednesday.

What do you see?

Click here to see the images published on Monday

Dear Friends,

showing today axial CTs and a cone down view of lesion. Hope they clarify your thoughts.

Click here to see the new images

Click here to see the see the answer

Findings: PA chest radiograph shows a well-defined opacity in the apex of the right lung. There is pleural thickening in the periphery of the opacity (A, arrow) that suggests an extrapulmonary location. There is a chain-like line in the periphery, better seen in the cone down view (A-B, red arrows), which looks like metallic surgical sutures. In addition, an irregular mass is visible in the right upper mediastinum (A-B, yellow arrows).

Discovering metallic sutures raises the possibility of post-surgical changes. It was found that the patient had been treated five years earlier with bullectomy and talc pleurodesis for persistent pneumothorax (C-D, arrows).

Enhanced axial CT at the present time shows a cystic pleural collection surrounded by talc (E, arrow). A caudal paramediastinal clump of talc (F, arrow) explains the right mediastinal mass seen in the plain film.

Final diagnosis: post-operative changes after bullectomy and talc pleurodesis for persistent pneumothorax.
Congratulations to Ner, who gave an excellent discussion and discovered the metallic sutures in the plain film.
Teaching point: Remember to look carefully at the radiographs. A simple finding, such as discovering metallic sutures, may lead to the correct diagnosis before CT.

Dr. Pepe’s Diploma Casebook: The art of interpretation: CASE 134 – SOLVED

Dear Friends,

I would like to start 2019 with a new section, called “The art of interpretation”.

Interpreting the chest radiograph is becoming a lost art and I would like to help you improve your skills in this area. With this in mind, I plan to show radiographs with interesting findings and analyze the steps that will lead to a correct evaluation of these findings.

That said, here is the first case: the chest radiographs of a 50-year-old man with liver cirrhosis and bloody vomiting.

What do you see and what would your diagnosis be?

Check the images and come back on Friday to see the answer!

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