Objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether a CT pattern that may represent early or subtle changes of pulmonary vasculitis in children exists.
Materials and methods: High-resolution CT scans of the chest for 107 children were retrospectively reviewed by two radiologists who were unaware of the original study findings. Chest CT scans (conventional) for another 54 children who had symptoms or a diagnosis of vasculitis also were reviewed.
Results: We identified hazy or fluffy centrilobular, perivascular densities in 10 children, two of whom had small airways disease and eight of whom had vasculitis (Wegener's granulomatosis [n = 5], systemic lupus erythematosus [n = 1], scleroderma-polymyositis overlap syndrome [n = 1], and Churg-Strauss syndrome [n = 1]). The latter eight children underwent 35 scans, 17 of which were positive for these perivascular densities. All positive scans were associated with active disease of new onset (5/17) or with clinical exacerbation of preexisting systemic disease (12/17). The positive scans also were associated with an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (13/17) and biopsy evidence of vasculitis from a variety of sites, including the lungs (n = 1), kidneys (n = 7), oropharynx (n = 5), skin (n = 9), lymph nodes (n = 1), and myocardium (n = 2). The single lung biopsy showed an angiocentric inflammatory-hemorrhagic process. Of the five patients who had positive scans, underwent therapy, and then had repeat studies, four patients had scans revert to normal in association with inactive disease. The remaining patient whose scan did not normalize failed to respond to treatment.
Conclusion: The fluffy centrilobular pattern likely represents subtle changes of pulmonary vasculitis. In the appropriate clinical setting, such a finding may obviate the need for a lung biopsy.