Pulmonary alveolar microlithiasis. A review including ultrastructural and pulmonary function studies

Mayo Clin Proc. 1983 May;58(5):290-300.


Pulmonary alveolar microlithiasis is a rare disease of unknown cause in which calcium phosphate microliths are deposited throughout the lungs. These deposits are of sufficient density to be almost diagnostic on chest roentgenograms. The Mayo Clinic experience with 8 patients is added to the approximately 120 cases reported in the world literature. The age range of all patients is from newborn to 80 years, with a mean age at diagnosis of about 35 years. No sexual predominance has been noted, but in about half of the reported cases a familial pattern has been found. The progression of the disease is generally very slow, some patients having been followed up for more than 30 years without evidence of change. No specific treatment is available. Pulmonary function studies demonstrate a tendency toward a restrictive pattern. Technetium-99m scanning and scanning and transmission electron microscopy are useful procedures for analysis of pulmonary alveolar microliths.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Calculi / diagnosis*
  • Calculi / diagnostic imaging
  • Calculi / pathology
  • Child
  • Diphosphonates
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Lung Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Lung Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Diseases / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Alveoli* / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Alveoli* / ultrastructure
  • Radiography
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Technetium
  • Technetium Compounds*


  • Diphosphonates
  • Technetium Compounds
  • Technetium
  • technetium Tc 99m diphosphonate