Pulmonary lymphangitic carcinomatosis: CT and pathologic findings

Radiology. 1988 Mar;166(3):705-9. doi: 10.1148/radiology.166.3.3340765.


The authors retrospectively reviewed the computed tomographic (CT) scans, biopsy specimens, autopsy results, and lobectomy specimens of 21 patients who had lymphangitic carcinomatosis. Ten-millimeter collimation CT scans were obtained from all patients, and selected 1.5-mm CT scans were obtained from ten patients. In five patients, the diagnosis was established with open lung biopsy, lobectomy, or autopsy; in nine, with bronchial biopsy or transbronchial biopsy; and in seven, with clinical and radiologic criteria. Certain characteristic findings on CT scans were evident: uneven thickening of bronchovascular bundles, thickening of isolated interstitial lines, and the presence of polygonal lines. These findings may be seen on CT scans even if the findings on chest radiographs are normal or nonspecific. The pathologic basis for these characteristic CT findings may relate to tumor thrombi in lymphatic vessels rather than edema and fibrosis, at least in the early stages of disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lymphatic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lymphatic Diseases / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed