Differential CT features of infectious pneumonia versus bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (BAC) mimicking pneumonia

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to evaluate retrospectively the differential CT features of bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (BAC) mimicking pneumonia and infectious pneumonia at the lung periphery. CT images were reviewed in 47 patients with focal areas of parenchymal opacification at the lung periphery. We evaluated the presence of ground-glass attenuation, marginal conspicuity of the lesion, CT angiogram sign, air-bronchogram sign, a bubble-like low-attenuation area within the lesion, presence of pleural thickening and retraction associated with the lesion, presence of pleural effusion and extra-pleural fatty hypertrophy, presence of bronchial wall thickening proximal to the lesion, and air-trapping in the normal lung near the lesion. BAC (n=18) depicted the presence of a bubble-like low-attenuation area within the lesion, whereas infectious pneumonia (n=29) represented the pleural thickening associated with the lesion and bronchial wall thickening proximal to the lesion (P<0.05). The other CT findings showed no significant differences (P>0.05). The focal areas of the parenchymal opacification on the CT images may suggest infectious pneumonia rather than BAC when they show bronchial wall thickening proximal to the lesion and pleural thickening associated with the lesion, whereas BAC is characterized as the presence of a bubble-like low attenuation area within the tumor.

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