Utility of spiral CAT scan in the follow-up of patients with pulmonary Langerhans cell histiocytosis

Eur J Radiol. 2012 Aug;81(8):1907-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2011.04.018. Epub 2011 May 6.


Pulmonary Langerhans cell histiocytosis (PLCH) is a rare disease that occurs almost exclusively in smokers, generally young adults between 20 and 40 years old. Prognostic biomarkers of the disease are lacking. This study describes the clinical-radiological features of a group of PLCH patients and applies a semi-quantitative CT score of the chest to verify the prognostic value of radiological findings in this disease. Clinical-radiological and immunological data from 12 Caucasian patients (6M, 7 smokers and 5 ex-smokers, mean age 36±8 years) were recorded at onset and after a follow-up period of 4 years. Application of the semi-quantitative CT score revealed a prevalently cystic pattern at onset and follow-up in the majority of the patients. Patients with a prevalently nodular pattern developed cystic lesions during follow-up. Interestingly, significant correlations were found between the extent of cystic lesions and DLCO values at onset (time 0: p<0.05) and at the end of follow-up (time 1, p<0.05) and with FEV1 values at time 0 (p<0.05) and time 1 (p<0.05). Patients with progressive functional decline were those with CT evidence of severe cystic alterations. The results suggest that high resolution CT scan of the chest is mandatory for characterizing PLCH patients at diagnosis and during follow-up. The proposed CT score of the chest showed potential prognostic value.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Histiocytosis, Langerhans-Cell / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, Spiral Computed / methods*
  • Young Adult