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      Multidimensional evaluation of tracheobronchial disease in adults

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          The large airways can be affected by a wide spectrum of acquired benign and malignant diseases. These lesions may present as focal or diffuse processes and with narrowing or widening of the airway. Some of these may be asymptomatic for quite some time and may be incidentally detected on imaging, while others may be symptomatic, causing airway compromise. There may be a characteristic radiograph and computed tomography (CT) appearance, suggesting a narrow differential. When the imaging findings are not definitive, tissue may be obtained for pathological analysis. It behooves the radiologist to be familiar with the pathologic findings that correlate with the radiographic or CT appearance of the most frequently seen large airway lesions. In this way, we may improve our diagnostic accuracy. This paper will present the imaging findings of the most prevalent tracheobronchial lesions along with any associated pathology.

          Teaching Points

          The large airways can be affected by many acquired benign and malignant diseases.

          Large airway lesions may present as focal or diffuse processes, with narrowing or widening .

          There may or may not be characteristic imaging appearance of large airway disease.

          If imaging findings are not definitive, tissue may be obtained for pathological analysis.

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          Most cited references 29

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          Ectopic thyroid tissue: anatomical, clinical, and surgical implications of a rare entity.

          Ectopic thyroid tissue is a rare entity resulting from developmental defects at early stages of thyroid gland embryogenesis, during its passage from the floor of the primitive foregut to its final pre-tracheal position. It is frequently found around the course of the thyroglossal duct or laterally in the neck, as well as in distant places such as the mediastinum and the subdiaphragmatic organs. Although most cases are asymptomatic, symptoms related to tumor size and its relationship with surrounding tissues may also appear. Any disease affecting the thyroid gland may also involve the ectopic thyroid, including malignancy. The clinician must distinguish between ectopic thyroid and metastatic deposits emerging from an orthotopic gland, as well as other benign or malignant masses. Thyroid scintigraphy plays the most important role in diagnosing ectopy, but ultrasonography contributes as well. In cases of symptomatic disease, surgery is the treatment of choice, followed by radioiodine ablation and levothyroxine suppression therapy in more refractory cases. This review provides current understanding about the wide clinical spectrum of this rare condition, also referring to optimal diagnostic approach, differential diagnosis, and management strategies.
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            Primary tracheal tumours.

            Primary tumours of the trachea can be benign or malignant and account for fewer than 0.1% of tumours. However, they are a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. Benign tumours are usually misdiagnosed as asthma or chronic lung disease, and can delay diagnosis for months or years. Because of their rapid growth and onset of haemoptysis, malignant tumours are often diagnosed earlier than benign tumours and patients thus often present with locally advanced disease. Inappropriate treatment is an equally frustrating issue. Modern techniques for tracheal surgery-laryngotracheal, tracheal, or carinal resection-combined with radiotherapy, can be offered curatively with low perioperative risks. Nevertheless, the low numbers of patients undergoing resection and the associated poor survival in epidemiological studies over the past two decades have shown that surgery is rarely considered outside referral centres, with radiotherapy or another form of local treatment (eg, endotracheal stents, debridement, brachytherapy) generally preferred. The liberal use of these other techniques should be avoided because surgery has the potential to cure all patients with benign and low-grade tumours and most patients with malignant primary tracheal tumours, and other techniques are usually palliative at best.
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              Pulmonary pleomorphic (spindle) cell carcinoma: peculiar clinicopathologic manifestations different from ordinary non-small cell carcinoma.

              Pleomorphic (spindle) cell carcinoma, also known as monophasic sarcomatoid carcinoma, is a rare primary pulmonary malignancy. This type of tumor shows concurrent presence of malignant epithelial and homologous sarcomatoid spindle cell components by co-expressing cytokeratin and vimentin in various degrees. Sixteen cases (four central endobronchial lesions and 12 peripheral parenchymal masses) were studied clinicopathologically. Men were affected far more frequently than women (13:3). The patients were between 56 and 80 years of age. The disease is strongly associated with smoking. Among seven of the patients who underwent surgical resection, four of them had mediastinum, pleura and chest wall invasions, and three of them had regional lymph node metastases. All of the patients succumbed to early distant metastases (range 2 weeks-5 months) in organs including brain, bone, adrenal gland, and unusual sites such as esophagus, jejunum, rectum and kidney. The remaining nine inoperable cases were late stage disease and treated with chemoradiotherapy with little effect. The median duration of survival was 3 months. All parenchymal masses appeared as cavities with marked central necrosis, and only peripheral rim of tumor cells was left. More definite diagnostic results will depend on further tissue sections and can be confirmed by immunohistochemical studies. Significantly fewer Ki-67, p53 and c-erb B-2 oncoprotein expressions were also noted.

                Author and article information

                585-275-1128 ,
                Insights Imaging
                Insights Imaging
                Insights into Imaging
                Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                16 April 2016
                16 April 2016
                June 2016
                : 7
                : 3
                : 431-448
                [ ]Department of Imaging Sciences, University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Box 648, Rochester, NY 14642 USA
                [ ]Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Minnesota, MMC 76, C420 Mayor Building, 420 Delaware Street, NE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 USA
                [ ]Department of Radiology, Einstein Healthcare Network, 5501 Old York Road, Philadelphia, PA 19141 USA
                © The Author(s) 2016

                Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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                © The Author(s) 2016

                Radiology & Imaging

                computed tomography, pathology, trachea, bronchi, adult


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