Radiological management of hemoptysis: a comprehensive review of diagnostic imaging and bronchial arterial embolization

Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2010 Apr;33(2):240-50. doi: 10.1007/s00270-009-9788-z.


Hemoptysis can be a life-threatening respiratory emergency and indicates potentially serious underlying intrathoracic disease. Large-volume hemoptysis carries significant mortality and warrants urgent investigation and intervention. Initial assessment by chest radiography, bronchoscopy, and computed tomography (CT) is useful in localizing the bleeding site and identifying the underlying cause. Multidetector CT angiography is a relatively new imaging technique that allows delineation of abnormal bronchial and nonbronchial arteries using reformatted images in multiple projections, which can be used to guide therapeutic arterial embolization procedures. Bronchial artery embolization (BAE) is now considered to be the most effective procedure for the management of massive and recurrent hemoptysis, either as a first-line therapy or as an adjunct to elective surgery. It is a safe technique in the hands of an experienced operator with knowledge of bronchial artery anatomy and the potential pitfalls of the procedure. Recurrent bleeding is not uncommon, especially if there is progression of the underlying disease process. Prompt repeat embolization is advised in patients with recurrent hemoptysis in order to identify nonbronchial systemic and pulmonary arterial sources of bleeding. This article reviews the pathophysiology and causes of hemoptysis, diagnostic imaging and therapeutic options, and technique and outcomes of BAE.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Angiography / instrumentation
  • Angiography / methods*
  • Bronchial Arteries / anatomy & histology
  • Bronchial Arteries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Critical Illness
  • Embolization, Therapeutic / methods*
  • Emergency Treatment
  • Female
  • Hemoptysis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hemoptysis / mortality
  • Hemoptysis / physiopathology
  • Hemoptysis / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Lung / blood supply
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Radiography, Interventional / methods*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Survival Rate
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Treatment Outcome