Imaging of Hemoptysis | Radiology Board Review Case

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Imaging of Hemoptysis (Case-based approach) | Radiology Board Review Case

Table Of Contents

Causes of hemoptysis

Common:

  • Bronchiectasis 
  • Tuberculosis, fungal infections.  
  • Malignancy  
  • Chronic bronchitis

Rare:

  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Vasculitis (Behcet’s disease, Takayasu arteritis, Goodpasture’s syndrome) 
  • Congestive heart failure, diffuse alveolar hemorrhage. 
  • Iatrogenic causes (pulmonary artery inflation devices, anticoagulants, trauma).
  • Bronchial artery aneurysm.
  • Pseudosequestration :  Systemic arterial supply to lung with normal bronchial connection (Sequestration – No communication with the bronchial tree). 
  • Congenital disorders (pulmonary artery atresia or stenosis, pulmonary arteriovenous malformation)

Pathophysiology of hemoptysis

  1. Pulmonary arteries : 99% of the arterial blood supply to the lungs and take part in gas exchange
  2. Bronchial arteries : Nourishment to the supporting structures of the airways and of the pulmonary arteries themselves (vasa vasorum) but do not normally take part in gas exchange.
  • Decreased PA flow or increased BA flow. 
  • BA hypertrophy is neovascular. BA-PA anastomosis are thin walled – High pressure systemic flow – rupture. 
  • Chronic inflammation (bronchiectasis, chronic bronchitis, and chronic necrotizing infections (in particular, tuberculosis and mycotic lung disease) -> release of angiogenetic growth factors -> increase in systemic arterial blood flow.
  • MC source: Bronchial artery – 90 % of cases. 

Bronchial arteries anatomy

  • Orthotopic:
    • Descending thoracic aorta, most commonly between the levels of T5 and T6. 
    • Right: Intercostobronchial trunk usually exists giving rise to one or more posterior intercostal arteries and a right bronchial arterial component. 
    • Left: Arises from the anterior aspect of the descending thoracic aorta. Because of its short mediastinal course, the left bronchial artery may be difficult to see clearly at single–detector row CT. 
    • Types of bronchial artery anatomy
  • Anomalous/ectopic: Bronchial arteries that originate outside the T5 through T6 range.
  • Non-bronchial systemic arteries 

Imaging tests for hemoptysis

  • Initial investigation – Chest radiograph. 
  • Ideal investigation – MDCT
  • 2018 Korean Clinical Imaging Guideline for Hemoptysis. 
    • Contrast-enhanced chest CT scan is recommended to diagnose the cause of hemoptysis in all adult patients who have two risk factors for lung cancer (> 40 years old and > 30 pack-year smoking history).
    • Contrast-enhanced chest CT scan is recommended to diagnose the cause of hemoptysis in all adult patients with moderate hemoptysis (> 30 mL/24 hours) or recurrent hemoptysis.
    • Contrast-enhanced chest CT scan should also be considered in adult patients with massive hemoptysis (> 400 mL/24 hours) and preserved cardiopulmonary function.
  • Bronchoscopy has an overall lower sensitivity than MDCT in detecting the underlying causes of bleeding  8% vs 77%, with MDCT but is useful for management.

Hemoptysis : CT Reporting checklist

  • Lung parenchyma
    • Bronchiectasis 
    • Lung carcinoma
    • Acute and chronic lung infections (in particular, tuberculosis and aspergillosis)
    • Cardiogenic pulmonary edema
  • Pulmonary arteries
    • Thromboembolic disease – non-massive hemoptysis 
    • Direct invasion by neoplastic disease or by necrotizing inflammatory disorders -Rasmussen aneurysms.
    • AVM
    • Dieulafoy disease
  • Bronchial arteries

Bronchial artery evaluation on CT

  • 95% of the cases of hemoptysis.
  • Diameter more than 2mm abnormal. 
  • Report anomalous and non-bronchial systemic arteries as failure to embolize this can cause recurrent hemoptysis.
  • Bronchial-to-Systemic Artery Communications – Arteria radicularis magna (artery of Adamkiewicz), usually T9-12. Can lead to non-target embolization and complications.

Reference and further reading

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Last Updated on July 19, 2020

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About the Author


Dr. Amar Udare, MD, DNB

Dr Amar UdareDr. Amar Udare is a board-certified radiologist. He is currently working as a fellow radiologist at McMaster University, Canada. He has a passion for teaching (#FOAMrad and #FOAMed) and has been a semi-finalist for the 2018 and 2020 Aunt-Minnie Most effective Radiology Educator Awards. He has authored multiple peer-reviewed publications which can be accessed on PubMed and Google Scholar.

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