Multi–Detector Row CT of Hemoptysis

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1148/rg.261045726

Hemoptysis is symptomatic of a potentially life-threatening condition and warrants urgent and comprehensive evaluation of the lung parenchyma, airways, and thoracic vasculature. Multi–detector row computed tomographic (CT) angiography is a very useful noninvasive imaging modality for initial assessment of hemoptysis. The combined use of thin-section axial scans and more complex reformatted images allows clear depiction of the origins and trajectories of abnormally dilated systemic arteries that may be the source of hemorrhage and that may require embolization. Conditions such as bronchiectasis, chronic bronchitis, lung malignancy, tuberculosis, and chronic fungal infection are some of the most common underlying causes of hemoptysis and are easily detected with CT. “Cryptogenic” hemoptysis is common among smokers and warrants subsequent follow-up imaging to exclude possible underlying malignancy. The bronchial arteries are the source of bleeding in most cases of hemoptysis. Contributions from the non-bronchial systemic arterial system represent an important cause of recurrent hemoptysis following apparently successful bronchial artery embolization. Vascular anomalies such as pulmonary arteriovenous malformations and bronchial artery aneurysms are other important causes of hemoptysis. Multi–detector row CT angiography permits noninvasive, rapid, and accurate assessment of the cause and consequences of hemorrhage into the airways and helps guide subsequent management.

© RSNA, 2006

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Article History

Published in print: Jan 2006