Fundamental Radiological Findings: Cavitary Pulmonary Lesion

OVERVIEW

This page is dedicated to covering the important radiological finding of a cavitary pulmonary lesionLook here for more radiological findings.

WHAT IS IT?

A cavitary pulmonary lesion refers to a finding often appreciated on a chest X-ray. The term is self descriptive in the scene that these lesions will have a literal cavity in their center that can be seen radiographically. These cavities occur as a result of a process that produces necrosis at the central portion of the lesion.

DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS FOR THIS FINDING

When seeing a cavitary pulmonary lesion, it is important to keep in mind the following possible causes of this finding:

  • Bronchogenic carcinoma 
  • Tuberculosis 
  • Lung abscess 
KEY FEATURES TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHARACTERIZING THE FINDING

When seeing a cavitary pulmonary lesion, there are a few important radiological features one should look at to try and characterize the finding. These features can help navigate the differential diagnosis above.

  • Thickness of the cavity wall: both bronchogenic carcinoma and a lung abscess will have thick walls where tuberculosis will have a thin wall.
  • Inner margin of the cavity: both tuberculosis and lung abscesses have smooth margins of their inner cavity, while bronchogenic carcinoma will typically have a nodular margin.

 

Page Updated: 01.09.2016