Pulmonary lymphangitic spread of carcinoma: appearance on CT scans

Radiology. 1987 Feb;162(2):371-5. doi: 10.1148/radiology.162.2.3797649.


Chest computed tomography (CT), including high-resolution CT with thin (1.5-mm) sections was used to evaluate proved (pathologically or clinically) lymphangitic spread (LS) of tumor in 12 patients. These appearances were compared with thin-section scans obtained in 11 healthy subjects. Thin-section CT demonstrated findings consistent with thickening of the normal lung interstitium. In all patients, thin sections showed an increase in the number of peripheral lines (1-2 cm in length) that were diffuse in generalized disease and localized in focal disease. Normal peripheral arcades were not increased in number, but the limbs forming the arcades were thickened in all patients. A diffuse increase in linear and curvilinear structures (reticular pattern) was seen toward the center of the lung. Polygonal structures 1-2 cm in diameter were seen in seven patients with LS but not in healthy subjects. Fissures were thickened in nine patients. Selected 1.5-mm-thick CT sections are recommended through abnormal areas (seen at CT or on chest radiographs) or if these are normal at three levels (midapex, hilus, and 3 cm above the diaphragm) when scanning patients with tumors known to cause LS.

MeSH terms

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