Metastatic pulmonary calcification: state-of-the-art review focused on imaging findings

Respir Med. 2014 May;108(5):668-76. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2014.01.012. Epub 2014 Feb 6.


Metastatic pulmonary calcification (MPC) is a subdiagnosed metabolic lung disease that is commonly associated with end-stage renal disease. This interstitial process is characterized by the deposition of calcium salts predominantly in the alveolar epithelial basement membranes. MPC is seen at autopsy in 60-75% of patients with renal failure. It is often asymptomatic, but can potentially progress to respiratory failure. Chest radiographs are frequently normal or demonstrate confluent or patchy airspace opacities. Three patterns visible on high-resolution computed tomography have been described: multiple diffuse calcified nodules, diffuse or patchy areas of ground-glass opacity or consolidation, and confluent high-attenuation parenchymal consolidation. The relative stability of these pulmonary infiltrates, in contrast to infectious processes, and their resistance to treatment, in the clinical context of hypercalcemia, are of diagnostic value. Scintigraphy with bone-seeking radionuclides may demonstrate increased radioactive isotope uptake. The resolution of pulmonary calcification in chronic renal failure may occur after parathyroidectomy, renal transplantation, or dialysis. Thus, the early diagnosis of MPC is beneficial. The aim of this review is to describe the main clinical, pathological, and imaging aspects of MPC.

Keywords: Imaging; Lung diseases; Metabolic diseases; Metastatic pulmonary calcification.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcinosis / diagnosis*
  • Calcinosis / etiology
  • Calcinosis / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Lung Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Lung Diseases / etiology
  • Lung Diseases / therapy
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods