Objective: To analyze the plain chest radiographic and CT findings of superficial endobronchial lung cancer and to correlate these with the findings of histopathology.
Materials and methods: This study involved 19 consecutive patients with pathologically proven lung cancer confined to the bronchial wall. Chest radiographs and CT scans were reviewed for the presence of parenchymal abnormalities, endobronchial nodules, bronchial obstruction, and bronchial wall thickening and stenosis. The CT and histopathologic findings were compared.
Results: Sixteen of the 19 patients had abnormal chest radiographic findings, while in 15 (79%), CT revealed bronchial abnormalities: an endobronchial nodule in seven, bronchial obstruction in five, and bronchial wall thickening and stenosis in three. Histopathologically, the lesions appeared as endobronchial nodules in 11 patients, irregular thickening of the bronchial wall in six, elevated mucosa in one, and carcinoma in situ in one.
Conclusion: CT helps detect superficial endobronchial lung cancer in 79% of these patients, though there is some disagreement between the CT findings and the pathologic pattern of bronchial lesions. Although nonspecific, findings of bronchial obstruction or bronchial wall thickening and stenosis should not be overlooked, and if clinically necessary, bronchoscopy should be performed.