Dr. Pepe’s Diploma Casebook: CASE 144 – SOLVED

Dear Friends,
presenting chest radiograph of a 77-year-old man with malaise and weight loss.
What do you see?

This is the last case before the summer. Will see you again in September. Enjoy your vacation!

Click here to see the images


Click here to see the solution

Findings: PA radiograph shows increased opacity of the left hilum (A, arrow), which is due to a mass projected over it, as seen in the lateral view (B, arrows). In addition, there is convexity of the aortopulmonary window (A, red arrow)

The increased hilar opacity (C, arrow) was not visible in a PA radiograph taken six months earlier (D, circle). Convexity of the aortopulmonary window (C, red arrow) was not present at that time.

In the lateral view, the mass (E, arrows) was visible six month earlier, albeit smaller (F, arrow). This progression indicates rapid growth.

Enhanced axial and coronal CT confirms a pulmonary mass invading the aortopulmonary window (G and H, arrows). Lung metastases were present (insert, red arrows)

Diagnosis: lung carcinoma invading the aortopulmonary window

I am presenting this case to discuss the aortopulmonary window (APW), which is a small mediastinal space located between the aortic knob and the pulmonary artery in the PA view (Fig 1A). The APW is normally concave; convexity (Fig 1B) suggests an abnormality that should be studied with enhanced CT.

Fig. 1.

Visibility of the APW is difficult in the elderly, because the superimposed uncoiled descending aorta makes the interpretation more difficult (Fig 2).

Fig 2. 67-year-old man with moderate dyspnea. A calcified lymph node (A-D, red arrows) marks the APW, which is hidden in the PA view by the elongated descending aorta.

Convexity of the APW may be overlooked unless we look specifically at the area (fig 3). The larger the abnormality, the more readily it is detected in the chest radiograph. Subtle changes are more difficult to identify and comparing with previous films is very helpful.

Fig. 3. 55-year-old man consulting for acute chest pain. PA film shows two Hampton humps in the right lower lung (A, white arrows). The left hilum is abnormal (A, red arrow). Enhanced coronal CT confirms the infarcts (B, white arrows), as well as a pulmonary mass (B, red arrow) and lymphadenopathy in the APW (B, yellow arrow). Findings were overlooked in a radiograph taken seven months earlier (C, yellow and red arrows). Proven bronchogenic carcinoma.

Causes that may alter the APW are: tumors, enlarged lymph nodes, aortic aneurysms and increased mediastinal fat. The phrenic nerve crosses this space and a phrenic neurinoma may also grow in the APW, although I have never seen a case.

Enlarged lymph nodes are by far the most common cause of occupation of the APW. They may occur in malignant and non-malignant diseases. They usually coexist with radiographic manifestations of the primary process (Figs 4 and 5).

Fig 4. 59-year-old man with apical LUL carcinoma (A and B, arrows). There is a marked bulge of the APW (A and B, red arrows). Moderate pneumothorax after needle biopsy.

Coronal and axial CT confirm metastatic lymph nodes in the APW (C and D, red arrows)

Fig 5. 33-year-old woman with low-grade fever and malaise. Chest radiographs shows a non-descript infiltrate in the anterior segment of the RUL (A and B, arrows). In addition, there is a prominent bulge in the APW, highly suspicious of lymphadenopathy (A, red arrow). Diagnosis: Hodgkin lymphoma.

In isolated occupation of the APW the etiology cannot be determined in the chest radiograph and enhanced CT should be obtained (fig 6).

Fig 6. Routine check-up in a 60-year-old woman. PA radiograph shows moderate convexity of the APW (A, arrow). Enhanced CT confirms enlarged lymph nodes in the APW (B and C, arrows), mediastinum and hila. Diagnosis: sarcoidosis

Aortic aneurysm is an uncommon cause of convexity of the APW (Fig 7). The abnormality is initially subtle and it becomes more evident as the aneurysm grows (Fig 8).

Fig 7. 78-year-old man without significant symptoms. PA radiograph shows a mediastinal mass protruding at the level of the APW (A and C arrows). The mass is also evident in the lateral view (B and D, arrows).

Radiographs taken five years earlier did not show the abnormality (E and F, circles).

Enhanced axial and coronal CT demonstrate that the mass represents a saccular aneurysm arising from the aortic arch (G and H, arrows).

Fig 8. 78-year-old man after a fall. PA radiograph shows numerous rib fractures (A, white arrows). An additional finding is a mediastinal opacity at the APW (A, red arrow), also visible in the lateral view (B, red arrow).

Comparison with previous films shows a normal APW in 2007 and progression of the opacity over a three-year period (arrows).

Enhanced CT shows that the opacity represents a partially thrombosed aneurysm arising from the inferior aspect of the aortic arch (C-D and E, arrows).

Last but not least, we should remember that mediastinal fat is an innocuous cause of convexity of the APW (Fig 9).

Fig 9. Asymptomatic 57-year-old man with superior mediastinal widening (A, arrow) and discrete convexity of the APW (A, red arrow). Coronal CT shows that the changes are due to mediastinal fat (B and C, arrows).


Follow Dr. Pepe’s advice:

1. Convexity of the APW suggests underlying pathology.

2. Enlarged lymph nodes are the most common cause of a convex APW.

3. Aneurysm and mediastinal fat may also enlarge the APW

Cáceres’ Corner Case 208 – SOLVED!

Dear Friends,

Presenting today radiographs of a 65-year-old man with back pain.

What do you see?

Click here to see the images


Click here to see the answer

Findings: PA chest radiograph shows an ill-defined opacity in the right middle lung field (A, asterisk), located in the anterior clear space in the lateral view (B, arrows). The anterior arch of the 4th right rib is missing.

A cone down view demonstrates an expanding lytic lesion in the anterior arch of the 4th right rib (C, asterisk), confirmed with CT (D and E, red arrows).

I thought this was an easy case, but I am disappointed because some of you missed a collapsed vertebra (F, circle), not present three years earlier (G, circle). Sagittal CT confirms it as well as additional affectation of L1 and posterior elements of D10 (H, red arrows).

In a patient with a port-a-cath, the presence of multiple lytic lesion suggests metastatic disease as the first possibility.
 
Final diagnosis: Carcinoma of esophagus with bone metastases

Congratulations to Andy, who was the first and to Archana Reddy.t who discovered the collapsed vertebra.

Teaching point: this case is similar to the previous one and the teaching point is the same: look at the underlying rib. And, above all, don’t forget to examine the rest of the bones!

Cáceres’ Corner Case 207 – SOLVED!

Dear Friends, 

Today I am presenting a case given to me by my good friend José Luis López Moreno. The PA radiograph belongs to a 77-year-old woman with pain in the right hemithorax.
What do you see?

More images will be shown on Wednesday.

Dear Friends,

showing today axial and coronal CT.
What do you think?

Click here to see more images


Click here to see the answer

Findings: PA radiographs shows an ovoid opacity in the right lung (A, arrow), that parallels the path of the anterior ribs. Careful observation demonstrates that the third and fifth anterior ribs are visible (B, red arrows), whereas the anterior fourth rib is absent (B, asterisks). An additional finding is moderated flattening of D11 and D12 (A, circle). The findings suggest multicentric bone lesions.

Enhanced axial and coronal CT confirm a lytic expanding lesion of the anterior fourth rib (C and D, arrows), better seen in the 3-D reconstructions (E and F, arrows).

In an adult, lytic expanding rib lesions are usually either metastases (thyroid, renal cell carcinoma) or multiple myeloma. Further studies confirmed a myeloma.
 
Final diagnosis: multiple myeloma affecting the right fourth rib and several thoracic and lumbar vertebrae.
 
Congratulations to Wafaa who suggested the diagnosis in the plain film and to VL who discovered the collapsed vertebrae.
 
Teaching point: remember to look at the underlying rib when facing a pleural/chest wall lesion. An affected rib will narrow down your diagnostic options. And don’t forget satisfaction of search (collapsed vertebrae in this case).

Dr. Pepe’s Diploma Casebook: CASE 143 – The wisdom of Dr. Pepe – SOLVED

Dear Friends,

This case belong to the section “The wisdom of Dr. Pepe”, in which an (useful?) aphorism ends the presentation.

I am presenting a routine PA radiograph in an asymptomatic 79-year-old woman operated on for a breast DCIS five years ago. PA radiograph taken five years earlier is shown for comparison. More images will be shown on Wednesday.

Diagnosis:

1. Granulomas
2. Metastases
3. Primary lung tumor(s)
4. Any of the above

Click here to see the images

Dear Friends,

showing CT images with and without contrast enhancement.

What would your diagnosis be?

1. Carcinoma
2. Active TB
3. Fibrous lung tumor
4. Any of the above

Click here to see the CT


Click here to see the answer

Findings: The PA chest radiograph shows two obvious small nodules in the left middle lung field (A, circle), not present five years earlier (B). In my experience, two nodules close together are usually granulomas. But in this case we have another finding: a subtle bulge in the left hilum (A, arrow), not visible in the previous film, highly suspicious of hilar adenopathy. This changes the diagnostic orientation and makes us think of an active process.

Unenhanced axial CT shows an hourglass-shaped pulmonary lesion (C and D, arrows) that simulated two nodules in the chest radiograph. The lesion enhances after contrast injection and contains a large arterial vessel (E, arrow). Non-enhancing lymph nodes are visible in the left hilum (F, arrow).
Although all three diagnoses offered in the blog can cause hilar adenopathy, the vascularity of the lesion points to a tumor.

PET-CT shows faint uptake of the primary lesion and the hilar lymph nodes (G and H, arrows). A needle biopsy (I, arrow) came back as an atypical small-cell tumor.

The patient was treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, with a good response of the primary tumor (J, arrow) and lymph nodes (K, circle).

Final diagnosis: SCLC with hilar metastasis and a good response to QT and RT

Discussion: I just finished reading “The subtle art of not giving a f*ck“ and there is an enlightening (and sadly true) chapter entitled “You are not special”. In this particular case I was feeling special, as I diagnosed a malignant pulmonary fibroma based on a single case seen 20 years ago (see below) because of the similarity of the vascular pattern in the two cases. After 50 years of practice, I forgot a basic principle: common conditions are, well, common. I’m showing this case to remind you that when faced with a diagnostic dilemma you should first consider common options rather than uncommon ones.

To redeem myself, I am showing my only case of fibrous tumor of lung in a 37-year-old woman with hemoptysis. The PA radiograph shows a well-defined paramediastinal nodule (A, arrow). Enhanced coronal and sagittal CT confirms the intrapulmonary location of the nodule, which has a large arterial vessel in the center with an aneurysm at the end (B and C, arrows).

Surgery confirmed a fibrous tumor of the lung.

Two bits of information about fibrous tumor of the lung: It is a very unusual spindle-cell tumor with the same histology as fibrous tumors of pleura, and like them, it has malignant potential. It is usually asymptomatic and is seen as a rounded or ovoid nodule of varying size. Immunohistochemistry is important for the diagnosis.


Follow Dr. Pepe’s pearls of wisdom:

Always consider that what you are seeing is a rare manifestation of a common disease rather than a common manifestation of a rare disease.

Cáceres’ Corner Case 206 – SOLVED

Dear Friends,

Now that Game of Thrones is ending, a new series is planned: Game of Thorax, in which either you diagnose or you die.

As you can see in today’s radiograph, the Iron Throne has been replaced by the Chest Throne.

What would your diagnosis be?

Come back on Friday to see the answer.

Click here to see the answer

Findings: PA chest radiograph show numerous metallic wires spread fan-like throughout the upper two thirds of both lungs.
This appearance is typical of endobronchial coils for lung volume reduction in patients with emphysema. They are used when other therapeutic alternatives are not feasible or as a bridge to lung transplantation.
 
I am showing this case because I have never seen one and wanted to share it with you. And to complain about the last season of Game of Thrones, of course!
 
Congratulations to all of you who made the diagnosis, led by MK, who was the first.

Dr. Pepe’s Diploma Casebook: CASE 142 – Art of interpretation – SOLVED

Dear Friends,

today I am presenting another “Art of interpretation” case. I like them and think they have good teaching value.
Radiographs were taken for preoperative knee surgery in a 21-year-old man.

What is the most likely diagnosis?

Diagnosis:
1. Swyer-James-McLeod syndrome
2. Congenital hypoplasia of left lung
3. LUL collapse
4. None of the above

Click here to see the images

Click here to see the answer

Findings: PA radiograph shows a hyperlucent left lung with a small elevated hilum (A, white arrow). The trachea is deviated towards the left and the left main bronchus is curved upward (A, blue arrow). There is a small peak in the left hemidiaphragm (A, red arrow). And there is a triangular-shaped paraspinal opacity (A, circle), better seen in the cone down view (B, white arrow), with two linear metallic opacities inside (B, red arrows).

The lateral view (C) is unremarkable. Although the PA findings suggest loss of volume of the LUL, there are some negative findings: no anterior displacement of the left major fissure and no opacity indicative of LUL collapse.

Analysis of the findings

There are four obvious findings:

1. Hyperlucent left lung with small left hilum
2. Tracheal deviation to the left
3. Upward curving of left main bronchus
4. Juxtaphrenic peak (*)

All these findings are indicative of LUL volume loss with compensatory overinflation of the LLL.

There are two less obvious findings, which are diagnostic:

Paramediastinal opacity with surgical staples
No signs of LUL collapse in the lateral view

The first indicates previous surgery and the second excludes LUL collapse. Taken together, these findings lead to the obvious conclusion that the patient had undergone a previous lobectomy.

(*) The juxtaphrenic peak sign was described by my late friend Kenneth Kattan as an indirect sign of LUL collapse. Semin Roentgenol 1980; 15:187-193

LOSS OF VOLUME OF LUL + SURGICAL STAPLES = LUL LOBECTOMY

In the past, the patient had embryonal carcinoma of the testicle with a metastatic nodule in the LUL (A and B, arrows). He had undergone LUL lobectomy by video-assisted thoracic surgery one year before.

Final diagnosis: LUL lobectomy for metastasis of embryonal testicular carcinoma

I’m showing this case to emphasize the importance of identifying metal sutures in the chest radiograph. Nowadays, most surgical procedures are done by video thoracoscopy which doesn’t leave any telltale signs other than surgical staples. These are difficult to see because of their small size and because high kV “burns” metal density.

Staples are visible as a faint longitudinal ring chain somewhat denser than the surrounding tissues. It’s very important to be familiar with their radiographic appearance because they offer valuable information about previous surgery.
When staples are detected, our interpretation of associated findings may change, as occurred with the case presented.

To familiarize you with the radiological appearance of surgical staples, I’m showing three more cases.

CASE 1:

88-year-o.ld man with dementia and moderate dyspnea. Chest radiographs show a nodule in the RUL (A and B, arrows). PA view shows post-surgical changes at the left 6th and 7th ribs and a hyperlucent left lung with a small hilum. There are surgical clips in the mediastinum (A and B, red circles). These findings suggest a previous LUL lobectomy and a second primary tumor. The patient’s records disclosed a LUL lobectomy for carcinoma twenty years earlier. The second primary tumor was confirmed by needle biopsy.
The radiographic findings are typical of “old” chest surgery.

CASE 2:

PA radiograph of a 23-year-old woman with a nondescript LUL infiltrate (A, arrow). Close-up view reveals a longitudinal ring chain of staples within the infiltrate (B, arrows), pointing to a man-made opacity secondary to video thoracic surgery.

Diagnosis: changes after endoscopic LUL bullectomy for recurrent pneumothorax.

CASE 3:
I saw this case three weeks ago and it is still unproven. A 44-year-old woman from another country came for a routine cardiac checkup. The PA chest radiograph shows a serpiginous opacity in the LLL (A, arrow) with a ring chain of staples in the periphery, better seen in the cone down view (B, arrows). On questioning, the patient mentioned previous endoscopic surgery for a nodule in the left lung two years ago. Enhanced CT shows a solid lesion with staples in the periphery (C, arrow).

As the patient could not provide previous medical records, we were unable to ensure that the changes were attributable to scar tissue. A follow-up CT has been scheduled.

Final words: Staples are difficult to reproduce on the computer screen, and I have done my best. I assure you that they are easily visible on a 14 by 17 reading console, provided that you see and recognize them 🙂


Follow Dr. Pepe’s teaching points:

1. Surgical staples are visible as a faint longitudinal ring chain.

2. They indicate previous surgery and help to interpret the chest findings under a new light.