Computed Tomography Halo Sign in Pulmonary Nodules: Frequency and Diagnostic Value

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On computed tomography (CT) scanning, a ground-glass opacity zone surrounding a pulmonary nodule has been named the computed tomography (CT) halo sign. To investigate the frequency and diagnostic value of the CT halo sign, the authors reviewed the CT examinations of 305 patients with proven diseases producing solitary or multiple nodules. The CT halo sign was seen in 22 patients (7%). Eleven patients had a solitary nodule; five patients had multiple nodules; and six patients had nodules associated with areas of pulmonary consolidation, or ground-glass opacity, or both. Solitary nodules were the result of bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (n = 5), tuberculoma (n = 2), squamous cell carcinoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, myxovirus infection, and metastasis (n = 1 each). Multiple nodules were the result of metastasis (n = 2), Kaposi sarcoma (n = 2), and Wegener granulomatosis (n = 1). Nodules associated with areas of consolidation or ground-glass opacity were the result of metastasis (n = 2), bronchioloalveolar carcinoma, bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia, eosinophilic pneumonia, and invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (n = 1 each). The data showed that the CT halo sign is a nonspecific finding. It is known that in immuno-compromised patients the CT halo sign should suggest invasive pulmonary aspergillosis, Kaposi sarcoma, and lymphoproliferative pulmonary disorders. However, in immunocompetent patients, the authors found that a solitary nodule with the CT halo sign and pseudocavitations has a high likelihood of being a bronchioloalveolar carcinoma.

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