Imaging of the pleura

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2010 Dec;32(6):1275-86. doi: 10.1002/jmri.22372.


Pleural disease is a problem of global significance which causes significant morbidity and mortality. Pleural disease is usually first suspected on chest x-ray but further imaging, often ultrasound, is usually required as part of the diagnostic work-up. Complex imaging with computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET)-CT are less often performed but are routinely required in patients with mesothelioma and occasionally required in patients with pleural infection and other pleural diseases. Cross-sectional imaging may be used to suggest the diagnosis of pleural disease, quantify disease severity, guide biopsy, and even predict prognosis. This review will focus on the contributions of CT, MRI, and PET to the management of pleural disease with discussion of their relative strengths and weaknesses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Contrast Media / pharmacology
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Empyema / diagnosis
  • Empyema / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Lipoma / diagnosis
  • Lipoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Liposarcoma / diagnosis
  • Liposarcoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Mesothelioma / diagnosis
  • Mesothelioma / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods
  • Pleura / diagnostic imaging
  • Pleura / pathology*
  • Pleural Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Pleural Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*


  • Contrast Media