Objective: We assessed the capacity of chest radiography and CT to determine the cause and site of bleeding in patients with either large or massive hemoptysis compared with bronchoscopy.
Materials and methods: We reviewed the chest radiographs, CT scans, and bronchoscopic findings in 80 patients with either large or massive hemoptysis who were admitted to our intensive care unit between January 1995 and June 1999.
Results: Findings on chest radiography were normal in only 13% of patients, of whom 70% had bronchiectasis. The chest radiographs revealed the site of bleeding in 46% of the patients and the cause in 35%, most of whom had tuberculosis or tumors. CT was more efficient than bronchoscopy for identifying the cause of bleeding (77% vs 8%, respectively; p < 0.001), whereas the two methods were comparable for identifying the site of bleeding (70% vs 73%, respectively; p = not significant).
Conclusion: These data suggest that CT could replace bronchoscopy as the first-line procedure for screening patients with large and those with massive hemoptysis. However, these results must be confirmed in a prospective multicenter study.