The solitary pulmonary nodule

Radiology. 2006 Apr;239(1):34-49. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2391050343.


The imaging evaluation of a solitary pulmonary nodule is complex. Management decisions are based on clinical history, size and appearance of the nodule, and feasibility of obtaining a tissue diagnosis. The most reliable imaging features are those that are indicative of benignancy, such as a benign pattern of calcification and periodic follow-up with computed tomography for 2 years showing no growth. Fine-needle aspiration biopsy and core biopsy are important procedures that may obviate surgery if there is a specific benign diagnosis from the procedure. In using the various imaging and diagnostic modalities described in this review, one should strive to not only identify small malignant tumors--where resection results in high survival rates--but also spare patients with benign disease from undergoing unnecessary surgery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*