Pulmonary cavitation following pulmonary infarction

Medicine (Baltimore). 1985 Sep;64(5):342-8. doi: 10.1097/00005792-198509000-00006.


Cavitation following bland pulmonary infarction is not commonly considered in the differential diagnosis of cavitary lung disease. In a 4-year period we have found 10 cases of cavitating pulmonary infarction (CPI) by reviewing serial chest radiographs from autopsies with pulmonary infarction and in all cases with positive ventilation-perfusion lung scans. We have compared these cases to 31 previously reported cases in the English literature that met our criteria for CPI. In our 10 patients, there were 12 radiographic cavities; 5 in the upper lobes, 5 in the lower lobes and 2 in the middle lobe. This distribution was consistent with a relative upper-lobe predominance in the literature review. In nine patients the cavitation appeared rapidly (mean, 5 days) and was associated with fever, purulent sputum, and leukocytosis. Sputum cultures were obtained in eight patients, revealing Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli in three each and Proteus species in two. In four patients, pulmonary infarction was not considered and the diagnosis was made at autopsy, a situation also common in previously reported cases. We have seen a high incidence of CPI in a retrospective review of patients with pulmonary infarction, and we believe that it is important to consider this diagnosis when evaluating cavitary lesions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Humans
  • Infarction / complications*
  • Infarction / diagnostic imaging
  • Infarction / pathology
  • Lung Abscess / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Abscess / etiology
  • Lung Abscess / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia / diagnostic imaging
  • Pneumonia / etiology
  • Pneumonia / pathology
  • Pulmonary Embolism / complications*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Embolism / pathology
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies