Imaging of thoracic Wegener's granulomatosis: the computed tomographic appearance

Am J Med. 1992 Nov;93(5):529-36. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(92)90581-u.


Purpose: Computed tomography (CT) can play a major role in the examination of patients with diffuse infiltrative disorders of the lung. CT patterns of thoracic Wegener's granulomatosis were retrospectively evaluated in this study. The CT appearance was compared with imaging obtained by conventional plain roentgenograms.

Patients and methods: Fourteen patients with Wegener's granulomatosis seen during the last 5 years are described. Conventional chest roentgenograms and CT scans from these patients are reviewed.

Results: The most frequent manifestation found in the lungs of patients with Wegener's granulomatosis was that of rounded opacities with or without cavitation. This was observed in 7 of 14 patients. Relatively unexpected was the frequent occurrence of bronchovascular bundle cuffing with a quite constant and characteristic bronchocentric distribution. This finding was observed in 5 of 14 patients. Vasculitis sign was demonstrated in 2 of 14 patients. Widespread acinar infiltrates, usually confluent, were common and were seen in 5 of 14 of our patients; in 2 of the patients, these infiltrates were due to diffuse pulmonary hemorrhage. Tracheal stenosis was the cause of sudden acute respiratory failure that was observed in one patient. Pleural disease was present in 3 of 14 patients. Hilar and mediastinal lymphadenopathy was observed in one patient. An interstitial pattern was observed in 3 of 14 patients.

Conclusions: We conclude that an extremely wide spectrum of radiologic findings may be observed in this disease. In 14 patients we found 11 different roentgenographic manifestations; moreover, in 8 patients it was possible to describe more than 1 radiologic manifestation at the same time or during the course of the disease. This observation is not surprising, if we consider the wide variability and broad spectrum of pathologic features in pulmonary Wegener's granulomatosis. Because conventional roentgenograms failed in a great number of cases to visualize the exact pattern and the extent of thoracic involvement, we believe that CT is particularly helpful for the assessment of pulmonary involvement in Wegener's granulomatosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed