Increased prevalence of tracheal diverticula in cystic fibrosis patients

Br J Radiol. 2016;89(1060):20150694. doi: 10.1259/bjr.20150694. Epub 2016 Feb 3.


Objective: This investigation sought to evaluate the prevalence and imaging characteristics of tracheal diverticula (TD) among patients with cystic fibrosis (CF).

Methods: A total of 113 patients with CF at our institution, with a median age of 29 years, had chest CT examinations between 2002 and 2014. These imaging studies were retrospectively reviewed to assess for the presence and characteristics of TD, including quantity, size and location. The severity of the CF disease was assessed using the Bhalla CT scoring system and pulmonary function tests.

Results: Of the 113 cases reviewed, 20 (17.7%) patients were found to have 1 or more TD. The presence of TD was associated with more severe disease by imaging criteria, with a Bhalla CT score of 13.9 ± 4.3 in patients with TD and 11.5 ± 4.3 in patients without TD. For the pulmonary function tests, forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and FEV1 percent predicted demonstrated a trend towards worsening function in patients with TD, although the difference was not statistically significant.

Conclusion: The prevalence of TD in our patient population with CF based on chest CT exams was 17.7%. In addition, the presence of TD was associated with more severe CF disease by imaging criteria.

Advances in knowledge: TD appear to have a higher prevalence in patients with CF than in the general population, are associated with more severe CF pulmonary disease by CT criteria and are frequently underreported by radiologists.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Tracheal Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Tracheal Diseases / etiology*
  • Young Adult