Dr. Pepe’s Diploma Casebook 158 – SOLVED

Dear Friends,

this is the last case of the first semester. Will meet again in September.
Wish all of you a very happy summer vacation!

This is a new “art of interpretation” case. Radiographs belong to a 40-year-old woman with mild cough.

What do you see?

Diagnosis:

1. Chronic TB changes
2. AV malformation
3. Bronchial atresia
4. Any of the above

Click here to see the answer

To refresh your memory, remember that interpreting a chest radiograph involves three basic steps:

1. Gather information. Examine the radiographs carefully and collect all the pertinent information. Remember that overlooking visible findings is the main cause of errors.

2. Analyze the findings. Once collected, the findings should be properly evaluated, and an opinion should be offered.

3. Decide on the next step to reach the diagnosis.

Step 1. Information:

In this patient the lateral view is unremarkable.
All relevant findings are seen in the PA radiograph:

1. Tubular branching opacities in the left upper lung (A, red arrows)
2. Increased lucency of left upper lung (A, circle)
3. Negative finding: the left hilum is in its normal position.

Step 2. Analysis of the findings:

1. Branching tubular opacities have a limited differential diagnosis: either they are pulmonary vessels or mucous-filled dilated bronchi.

2. Hyperlucent lung is a reliable sign of lung disease when complemented with an expiration film to demonstrate air-trapping.

3. The normal position of the left hilum is a negative finding that excludes a fibrotic process in the LUL (I.e. chronic TB), which should cause upper retraction of the hilum.

The combination of a lucent lung lesion with branching tubular opacities points towards an obstructive process of a segmental bronchus with mucous impaction (Obstruction of a lobar bronchus would cause lobar collapse instead of increased lucency).

TUBULAR BRANCHING OPACITIES + INCREASED LUNG LUCENCY = SEGMENTAL BRONCHIAL OBSTRUCTION

Step 3. Decide on the next step

Once segmental bronchial obstruction is suspected in the chest radiograph, the best procedure to confirm it is an enhanced chest CT with expiratory views. In this case it shows attenuated upper lobe vessels (B, arrows) and obvious mucous impactions (B-C, red arrows).
Axial CT with lung window confirms the increased lucency of the apical-posterior segment of the RUL (D, circle)

Inspiration/expiration axial CT views (E-F) confirm segmental air trapping on the left.

Bronchoscopy did not show any inflammatory or tumoral changes in the LUL bronchus. The orifice of the apical-posterior segment was missing.

Final diagnosis: bronchial atresia of apical-posterior segment of LUL

In my experience, bronchial atresia is the most common congenital lung malformation seen in adults. Congenital bronchial atresia results from proximal interruption of a segmental bronchus, which causes overinflation of the affected segment and secondary mucus impaction. Chest radiography shows a focal hyperlucent area with internal mucus impaction. CT depicts these findings to better advantage. Inspiration and expiration views help to confirm air-trapping. In case of doubt, bronchoscopy excludes other causes of bronchial obstruction.

Congenital bronchial atresia may present different appearances, as shown in the following case of one of our X-ray technicians.

30-year-old female, asymptomatic. PA chest radiograph (A) shows hyperlucent left lung with discrete dextroposition of the heart. Expiration film (B) shows air-trapping on the left with deviation of the mediastinum towards the right. Note a thick tubular shadow in the left lower lung (A-B, red arrows), compatible with bronchial impaction. The findings are suggestive of congenital bronchial atresia

Axial and coronal enhanced CT show increased lucency of the posterior segments of LLL with a central mucous impaction (C-D, red arrows)

Decreased vascularity of LLL and central mucous impaction (E-F, red arrows) are better demonstrated in the MIP reconstruction.

Coronal view eleven years later show that air is now present within the dilated bronchus, confirming the diagnosis (G-H, circles) .


Dr. Pepe’s teaching point:

Hyperlucent lung with mucous impaction are the hallmark of congenital bronchial atresia.

Cáceres’ Corner Case 241 – SOLVED

Dear Friends,

Today’s radiographs belong to a 24-year-old woman with cough and fever. What do you see?

More images will be shown next Wednesday and the answer will be published on Friday.

Click here to see Monday images


Dear Friends,

Showing today CT images of the chest. What do you think?

Click here to see the new images

Click here to see the answer

Findings: Chest radiographs show air-space disease in the right lower lobe (A-B, arrows). There is marked widening of the right paratracheal line (A, red arrow) suggestive of mediastinal lymphadenopathy.

Axial CT with lung window shows RLL air-space disease without cavitation (C, arrow). Mediastinal window at different levels confirms enlarged paratracheal, subcarinal and neck lymph nodes with hypodense center (D-F, red arrows). These findings should suggest active tuberculosis as the first possibility.
Although TB usually affects upper lobes, isolated involvement of lower lobes occurs in about 7% of cases.
 
Mycobacterium tuberculosis was found in the sputum.

Final diagnosis: active TB.
 
Congratulations to Archanareddyt who was the first to make the diagnosis.
 
 Teaching point: lymph nodes with hypodense center may occur in several processes (treated tumors, Whipple’s, etc.), but in the appropriate clinical situation, the first diagnostic consideration should be tuberculosis.

Neuroradiology #22 – Flashcard

What do you see on these images?

Click here to see the answer

Oligodendroglioma

CT scan shows a large calcified lesion. MRI shows a large cortical-based high T2 lesion with cystic component and dark T2 foci corresponding to the calcifications. Post-contrast images show patchy enhancing areas.  

Differential Diagnosis

DNET (usually may calcify) ganglioglioma (cystic areas, enhancing solid component, may calcify).

Dr. Pepe’s Diploma Casebook 157 – SOLVED

Dear Friends,

The leading case of this week’s Diploma has been provided by my good friend Jordi Andreu. Radiographs belong to an asymptomatic 48-year-old woman.

Diagnosis:

1. Neurogenic tumor
2. Pulmonary hamartoma
3. Pleural fibrous tumor
4. None of the above

What do you think? Come back on Friday to see the answer!

Click here to see the answer

Findings: PA chest radiograph shows a rounded opacity in the left apex (A, arrow). All diagnosis are possible, as the pulmonary apex is a narrow space and it is very difficult to determine the origin of a mass. The clue lies in the nodular opacities in the neck (A, circle) which raise the possibility of superimposed hair braid.
Unenhanced coronal CT (B) does not show any mass, confirming that the finding is artifactual.

Final diagnosis: superimposed hair braid simulating pulmonary disease

The purpose of this presentation is to discuss elements in or about the soft tissues of the chest wall that may simulate lung disease. Those related to the thoracic skeleton were shown in Diploma case # 57.
This Diploma complements the non-significant findings described in webinar eight.

I have classified them into three groups, the first one related to the soft tissues of the chest wall while the other two are external to the body:

1. Nipples and skin lesions
2. Hair and/or hair implements
3. Garments

Nipple Shadows

Nipple shadows are seen in 3% to 10% of PA chest radiographs. In about 10% of these patients, the identification may raise doubts. Comparison with previous films will confirm the stability of the nodules (Fig. 1). In case of doubt, nipple markers should be placed. Routine use of nipple markers has been proposed in oncologic patients.

Fig. 1. 58-year-old man with typical bilateral nipple shadows (A, arrows), unchanged in comparison with a previous film (B, arrows). Nipples are well seen on axial CT in the same patient (C, arrows). Nowadays, patients may come with their own nipple markers! (D).

Unilateral enlarged nipple shadows are suspicious findings. Visual inspection should be done to confirm that the nipple is indeed enlarged (Fig. 2). Occasionally, a true lung nodule may simulate a nipple shadow, even with nipple markers. In such cases, CT will correct our error (Figs. 3-4)

Fig 2. 61-year-old woman with left pleuritic chest pain. PA chest film shows a small amount of left pleural fluid (A, white arrow) and a nodule at the right costophrenic angle (A, red arrow). Visual inspection showed a large right nipple as the cause of the false nodule. Two weeks later, the pleural effusion has disappeared, and the nipple shadow is no longer seen (B).

Fig. 3. 54-year-old man with a renal tumor. PA film shows a nodule in the LLL (A, arrow) that simulates a nipple, even with a nipple marker (B, arrow). Axial CT shows a metastatic nodule in the LLL and a larger one in the RLL, not seen in the PA chest radiograph (insert, arrows).

Skin lesions

Skin lesions may also cause false lung nodules. Visual inspection of the chest will demonstrate them and confirm the diagnosis (Fig. 5). If there is any doubt, a marker can be used.

Fig. 5. Chest wart simulating a lung nodule in the PA film (A, arrow). Lateral film shows the wart in the skin of the anterior chest wall (B, arrow). The wart is higher in this view because the upheld arms elevate it.

Occasionally, a discrepancy in density between both breasts, usually related to previous surgery, may simulate pulmonary pathology (Fig 6).


Fig 6. 65-year-old woman with syncope. PA radiograph shows a rounded opacity in the right lung (A, arrow), suspected to be a pulmonary infiltrate. Axial CT (B) show normal lungs. The opacity is due to a superimposed right breast prosthesis (B-C, arrows).

Hair

In my experience, hair is a common cause of opacities in the lung apices (Fig 7).
Strands of loose hair may project over the upper lung, simulating linear fibrotic infiltrates (Fig 8). Rubber bands at the end of braids may be confused with pulmonary nodules (Fig. 9). A long braid may fool us and consider it intrapulmonary disease (Fig 10).

In most cases, the clue to the diagnosis lies in recognizing that the abnormality extends to the neck.

Fig. 7. Braid simulating an apical pulmonary nodule (A-B, arrows). The rubber band (A-B, red arrows) suggests the correct diagnosis

Fig. 8. Loose hair simulating a linear infiltrate or fibrosis in the right apex (A, white arrow). Note the same appearance in the lower neck (A, red arrow). The apex looks normal after the hair is lifted (B). The opaque rounded opacity that looks like a hair clasp (A-B yellow arrow) is a cervical disk prosthesis.

Fig 9. Two patients with rubber bands at the end of a braid simulating pulmonary nodules (A-B, arrows). In both, the braids are visible in the neck (A-B, red arrows). Despite that, patient B was referred for a CT examination to evaluate a left lung nodule.

Fig. 10. 25-year-old man with braided hair simulating a RUL infiltrate (A, arrow). The opacity extends to the neck, giving away the diagnosis (A, red arrow). After raising the braid, the chest looks normal (B). Remember that men also wear their hair long nowadays.

Clothing artifacts

Clothing artifacts occur when the technician does not ask patients to remove garments that have logos or images on them. This usually happens with women, out of respect for modesty (Figs. 11 and 12).

Fig. 11. 27-year-old woman with multiple miliary nodules in both lungs (A, circles). The opacities result from a jeweled panther on the shirt she was wearing (B).

Fig 12. 45-year-old woman with previous breast carcinoma. PA radiograph shows small nodules in lower lungs (A, circles). Lateral view proves that the nodules are in a blouse (B, arrow)

Other types of body artifacts may cause dubious opacities in the chest radiograph (Figs 13 and 14)

Fig 13. 29-year-old man with a barely visible non-displaced fracture of the left clavicle (A, arrow), well demonstrated in the 3-D CT reconstruction (B). Components of the support brace for the fracture simulate enlarged upper lobe vessels (A, red arrows).

To end the presentation, in the last two months we have been acquainted with a new artifact: the wire in the face masks (Fig 14)

Fig 14. Routine chest radiograph during the Covid-19 scare. Notice the wire in the face mask (A-B, arrows)


Follow Dr. Pepe’s advice:

1. Unilateral nipple shadows may generate diagnostic problems.
2. If a hair artifact is suspected, look at the soft tissues of the neck.
3. Garments may create weird lung shadows.

Cáceres Corner Case 234 – Vignette

Dear Friends,

Today´s radiographs belong to a 48-year-old woman with aortic stenosis.

Most likely diagnosis:

1. Intrathoracic goiter
2. Aortic arch malformation
3. Neurogenic tumor
4. Any of the above

Click here to see the answer

Findings: PA radiograph shows a left mediastinal mass superimposed on the artic knob (A, arrow). The trachea is not displaced. In the lateral view the mass is in the anterior/middle mediastinum (B, arrows).
Regarding the diagnosis offered, the location excludes neurogenic tumor which usually arises in the posterior mediastinum. Intrathoracic goiter is a possibility, but the fact that part of it is the anterior mediastinum and that there is no tracheal displacement goes against this diagnosis. The location of the mass around the aortic knob plus knowing that the patient has aortic valve stenosis point to an aortic arch malformation.

Click here to see more images

Enhanced CT shows that the mass corresponds to a high aortic knob (C, arrow). An oblique view demonstrates the high knob (D, arrow) with a kink and angulation of the aorta representing the lower knob in the PA radiograph (D, red arrow).
My apologies for showing only 3-D images, but the CT was done during the lockdown and they are all I could get.
The patient has no collateral circulation. He had no systemic hypertension and no gradient across the zone of kinking.

Final diagnosis: aortic pseudocoarctation

Pseudocoarctation of the aorta occurs when the aortic arch originates from the 3rd arch, instead of the 4th. In this condition, the aortic arch is higher than usual, with a kinking at the union of the aortic arch and descending aorta, simulating aortic coarctation. Rib notching is absent and systemic hypertension is not present.
This is a rare condition is, but it is not unusual to see it in clinical practice.

To compensate for the lack of CT images in this case, I am showing another pseudocoarctation with similar findings (Fig 1).

Fig 1. PA chest radiograph shows a superior middle mediastinal mass (A, arrow), displacing the trachea. Mass is vaguely seen on the lateral view (B, circle). The most common diagnosis should be an endothoracic goiter but remember that a vascular structure should be always ruled out with enhanced CT.

Coronal CT demonstrates that the mass corresponds to a dilated aortic arch located higher than usual (C, arrow). On the oblique reconstruction, the high aneurysmatic aortic arch is well seen as well as the kinking at the junction with the descending aorta (D, red arrow).
Final diagnosis: aortic pseudocoarctation with aneurysm of the aortic arch.


Cáceres Corner Case 233 – Vignette

Dear Friends,

Recommendations for this week: A history of the world in 100 objects written by Neil McGregor, Director of the British Museum. Series: Good omens (Amazon). 

Today’s radiographs belong to a 51-year-old man with moderate cough.
 
Do you see any abnormality?
If so, where?

1.  Upper third
2. Middle third
3. Lower third
4. Don’t see it

Click here to see the answer

Findings: PA radiograph shows a left parahilar opacity (A, arrow), seen as an anterior elongated opacity in the lateral view (B, arrow). Its shape in the lateral view suggests mucous impaction.

Click here to see more images

Enhanced CT was done. What would be your diagnosis?

1. Benign endobronchial tumor
2. Allergic aspergillosis
3. Foreign body
4. None of the above

Click here to see the answer

Findings: enhanced axial CT shows an endobronchial obstruction with a distal mucous impaction (C, arrow), also visible in the coronal reconstruction (D, arrow). The clue to the diagnosis lies in recognizing two small lung nodules in the axial view ( C, red arrows) and another one in the right lung in the coronal view (D, red arrow). In addition, there is an enhancing nodule in the gallbladder (D, yellow arrow). These findings suggest widespread malignancy and the correct answer should be 4. None of the above.

Click here to see more images

Bronchoscopy discovered a dark tumor in the lingular bronchus (E), as well as numerous small implants in the trachea, also visible in the CT (F, arrow).
Review of the clinical history discovered that the patient had been operated on for melanoma of the back four years earlier.

Final diagnosis: widespread metastases from melanoma, one of them causing bronchial mucous impaction

Mucous impactions may be multiple or localized. Multiple impactions are related to respiratory diseases that cause bronchiectasis and thick mucus (allergic aspergillosis, cystic fibrosis) whereas localized ones are secondary to segmental endobronchial lesions.

The prevalence of bronchogenic carcinoma makes it the most common cause of localized mucus impaction in clinical practice. Other malignant tumoral lesions are metastases and carcinoids.

Endobronchial metastases represent about 2% of lung metastases. They are usually accompanied by metastatic nodules. They may occur in association with any tumor, but the most common sources are colon, breast, kidney and melanoma.

Head and Neck – Flashcard #1

Axial CT bone window

What do you see on this image?

Click here to see the answer

Otosclerosis

There is a small lucency anterior to the vestibule, just lateral to the basal turn of the cochlea. Consistent with fenestral otosclerosis.

There are two types of otosclerosis:

1- Fenestral: is the most common type. It involves the bone anterior to the oval window and causes conductive hearing loss.
2- Retro-fenestral: involves the cochlear capsule and causes sensorineural hearing loss.
The two types can occur simultaneously.

Cáceres Corner Case 230 – Vignette

Dear friends,

Today’s radiographs belong to a 27-year-old with dyspnea.

Diagnosis:

1. Giant bulla
2. Emphysema
3. Loculated pneumothorax
4. Any of the above

Click here to see the answer

Findings: PA radiograph shows overinflation of the lower right lung pushing the minor fissure upward (A, arrow), simulating partial RUL collapse. In the lateral view there is a circular line (B, red arrows) suggesting the wall of a giant bulla. The correct diagnosis is made by detecting overinflation of the left lower lung and scarce vascularity, an indication that we are not dealing with localized disease of RLL (giant bulla or pneumothorax) but with disease of both lower lobes. Therefore the correct diagnosis should be 3. Emphysema.

Another finding in favor of emphysema of lower lobes is redistribution of the pulmonary circulation in which the diameter of the vessels of upper lobes (B) is larger than those of the lower lobes (C).
Pulmonary vascular redistribution is usually due to cardiac failure but it may also occur in emphysema of lower lobes in which vascular flow is redirected to the functioning upper lobes.

Click here to see more images

Unenhanced axial CT confirm the relative sparing of upper lobes (D) and the severe emphysematous changes of lower lobes (E).

Coronal CT (F) shows severe emphysema of lower lobes and increased vascularity of upper lobes as well as discrete bronchial dilatations. Sagittal reconstruction demonstrates that the apparent wall of a bulla seen in the lateral chest radiograph represents the minor and major fissures (G, arrows) limiting a markedly emphysematous right middle lobe.

Diagnosis: Pulmonary emphysema secondary to alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency.

This condition affects young persons and causes severe emphysema of lower lobes and bronchial dilatations.

I am showing this case because is a good example of satisfaction of search (missing changes of the left lower lobe will lead you to the wrong diagnosis).
It is also a nice example of vascular redistribution secondary to pulmonary disease.

Abdominal #9 – Flashcard

31-year-old male with:

* Right upper quadrant & epigastric pain
* History of gastric bypass surgery

What aquatic sign is used for the finding in the red circle?

Whirlpool sign

What is shown at the blue arrow?

The transition point from dilated small bowel (with the “small bowel feces sign”) to non-dilated small bowel at the site of internal herniation through a mesenteric defect.

Cáceres Corner Case 229 – Vignette

Hello friends,

After three weeks of confinement I believe I have seen all TV series available. If you like Sci-Fi I recommend The Expanse (Amazon Video) and for older citizens The Kominsky method(Netflix).

Today’s case was sent to me from my hospital in the early days of lockdown. The scout film belongs to a 78-year-old man with doubtful COVID-19 infection.
Do you see any abnormality?
If so, where is it?

1. Chest
2. Abdomen
3. Chest and abdomen
4. Don’t see it

Click here to see the answer

Findings: There is a rounded right mediastinal opacity at the junction of the trachea and right main bronchus (A, arrow). There is an apparent abdominal RUQ mass (A, red arrows) with an area of lesser opacity in the center (A, yellow arrow).
The correct answer would be number 3. Visible abnormalities in chest and abdomen

With these findings what would be your diagnosis?

1. Enlarged azygos arch
2. Azygos continuation of IVC
3. Right-sided stomach
4. All of the above

Click here to see the answer

The clue to the diagnosis resides in the apparent RUQ abdominal mass. The shape suggests a right-side stomach, with air in the antrum and duodenal bulb and lesser amount of air in the fornix (Fig A). Findings are better seen in the drawing (B).

A right-sided stomach with a normal-positioned heart is highly suggestive of a congenital abnormality, levocardia with abdominal situs inversus. In this malformation the chest structures are in their normal location, whereas the abdominal viscera are rotated 180 degrees.
This malformation is accompanied by partial interruption of the IVC and azygos continuation, which results in an enlarged azygos arch.
Therefore the correct answer is 4. All of the above

Click here to see the more images

Enhanced axial CT confirms the enlarged azygos arch (A, arrow). Coronal reconstruction demonstrates the dilated ascending azygos vein (B, arrows)

Axial images of the upper abdomen show the gastric fornix in the RUQ (C-D, arrows) as well as a normal left-sided heart (C) and a mid-line liver (D). There is a small splenic remnant in the RUQ (D, red arrow).

Final diagnosis: Levocardia with abdominal situs inversus

I am showing this case because this is our fourth patient with levocardia and abdominal situs inversus seen in the last four years (see Caceres´ corner cases 178 & 194 and Dr. Pepe´s Summer case 1). It may not be as rare as the textbooks state. In addition, the diagnosis can be suggested in the plain film if we discover the right-sided stomach.