Plain chest radiography remains the first diagnostic approach to diffuse infiltrative lung disease but has limited diagnostic sensitivity and specificity. Many diseases remain occult or are not correctly assessed using chest X-ray, appearing as a nonspecific 'reticulonodular pattern'. High-resolution CT (HRCT) is actually the recommended imaging technique in the diagnosis, assessment, and follow-up of these diseases, allowing also the evaluation of the effectiveness of the medical therapy and the selection of the type and the location of the biopsy when required. Appropriate techniques must be used to acquire high-quality HRCT scans, with the thin collimation and high spatial reconstruction algorithm being the most important factors. A nodular pattern, linear and reticular opacities, cystic lesions, ground-glass opacities and consolidations are the most common HRCT patterns of diffuse infiltrative lung disease. This article reviews the role of chest radiography and HRCT in the diagnosis and assessment of these diseases, the technical aspects of HRCT, its clinical indications and the radiological pattern of the most common types of chronic diffuse infiltrative lung disease.
Copyright 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel