Emphysema differential diagnosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: : Mehrian Jafarizade, M.D [2]

Overview

Emphysema must be differentiated from other diseases presenting with cough, shortness of breath and tachypnea, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, bronchiectasis, and bronchiolitis obliterans, pulmonary embolism, pericarditis, and vasculitis.

Differential Diagnosis

Emphysema should be differentiated from other diseases presenting with chronic cough, shortness of breath and tachypnea. The differentials include the following:[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

Diseases Diagnostic tests Physical Examination Symptoms Past medical history Other Findings
CT scan and MRI EKG Chest X-ray Tachypnea Tachycardia Fever Chest Pain Hemoptysis Dyspnea on Exertion Wheezing Chest Tenderness Nasalopharyngeal Ulceration Carotid Bruit
Pulmonary embolism
  • On CT angiography:
    • Intra-luminal filling defect
  • On MRI:
    • Narrowing of involved vessel
    • No contrast seen distal to obstruction
    • Polo-mint sign (partial filling defect surrounded by contrast)
✔ (Low grade) ✔ (In case of massive PE) - - - -
Congestive heart failure
  • Goldberg's criteria may aid in diagnosis of left ventricular dysfunction: (High specificity)
    • SV1 or SV2 + RV5 or RV6 ≥3.5 mV
    • Total QRS amplitude in each of the limb leads ≤0.8 mV
    • R/S ratio <1 in lead V4
- - - - - -
Percarditis
  • ST elevation
  • PR depression
  • Large collection of fluid inside the pericardial sac (pericardial effusion)
  • Calcification of pericardial sac
✔ (Low grade) ✔ (Relieved by sitting up and leaning forward) - - - - -
  • May be clinically classified into:
    • Acute (< 6 weeks)
    • Sub-acute (6 weeks - 6 months)
    • Chronic (> 6 months)
Pneumonia - - - -
Vasculitis

Homogeneous, circumferential vessel wall swelling

-
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • On CT scan:
  • On MRI:
    • Increased diameter of pulmonary arteries
    • Peripheral pulmonary vasculature attentuation
    • Loss of retrosternal airspace due to right ventricular enlargement
    • Hyperpolarized Helium MRI may show progressively poor ventilation and destruction of lung
- - - - - -

Features Specific for Congestive Heart Failure

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be confused with congestive heart failure due to similar presentations like wheezing and shortness of breath. Features specific to congestive heart failure are:

Features Specific for Bronchiectasis

  • Copious purulent sputum
  • Coarse crackles
  • Clubbing
  • CT findings suggestive of Bronchiectasis.

Features Specific for Bronchiolitis Obliterans

  • History of collagen vascular disease.
  • Young patient usually without a history of smoking
  • CT scan shows finding of mosaic attenuation and no evidence of emphysema.

Features Specific for Chronic Asthma

  • Chronic asthma responds well to bronchodilators.
  • Normal diffusion capacity of lung on pulmonary function test.


References

  1. Brenes-Salazar JA (2014). "Westermark's and Palla's signs in acute and chronic pulmonary embolism: Still valid in the current computed tomography era". J Emerg Trauma Shock. 7 (1): 57–8. doi:10.4103/0974-2700.125645. PMC 3912657. PMID 24550636.
  2. "CT Angiography of Pulmonary Embolism: Diagnostic Criteria and Causes of Misdiagnosis | RadioGraphics".
  3. Bĕlohlávek J, Dytrych V, Linhart A (2013). "Pulmonary embolism, part I: Epidemiology, risk factors and risk stratification, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, diagnosis and nonthrombotic pulmonary embolism". Exp Clin Cardiol. 18 (2): 129–38. PMC 3718593. PMID 23940438.
  4. "Pulmonary Embolism: Symptoms - National Library of Medicine - PubMed Health".
  5. Ramani GV, Uber PA, Mehra MR (2010). "Chronic heart failure: contemporary diagnosis and management". Mayo Clin. Proc. 85 (2): 180–95. doi:10.4065/mcp.2009.0494. PMC 2813829. PMID 20118395.
  6. Blinderman CD, Homel P, Billings JA, Portenoy RK, Tennstedt SL (2008). "Symptom distress and quality of life in patients with advanced congestive heart failure". J Pain Symptom Manage. 35 (6): 594–603. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2007.06.007. PMC 2662445. PMID 18215495.
  7. Hawkins NM, Petrie MC, Jhund PS, Chalmers GW, Dunn FG, McMurray JJ (2009). "Heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: diagnostic pitfalls and epidemiology". Eur. J. Heart Fail. 11 (2): 130–9. doi:10.1093/eurjhf/hfn013. PMC 2639415. PMID 19168510.
  8. Takasugi JE, Godwin JD (1998). "Radiology of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease". Radiol. Clin. North Am. 36 (1): 29–55. PMID 9465867.
  9. Wedzicha JA, Donaldson GC (2003). "Exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease". Respir Care. 48 (12): 1204–13, discussion 1213–5. PMID 14651761.
  10. Nakawah MO, Hawkins C, Barbandi F (2013). "Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and the overlap syndrome". J Am Board Fam Med. 26 (4): 470–7. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2013.04.120256. PMID 23833163.
  11. Khandaker MH, Espinosa RE, Nishimura RA, Sinak LJ, Hayes SN, Melduni RM, Oh JK (2010). "Pericardial disease: diagnosis and management". Mayo Clin. Proc. 85 (6): 572–93. doi:10.4065/mcp.2010.0046. PMC 2878263. PMID 20511488.
  12. Bogaert J, Francone M (2013). "Pericardial disease: value of CT and MR imaging". Radiology. 267 (2): 340–56. doi:10.1148/radiol.13121059. PMID 23610095.
  13. Gharib AM, Stern EJ (2001). "Radiology of pneumonia". Med. Clin. North Am. 85 (6): 1461–91, x. PMID 11680112.
  14. Schmidt WA (2013). "Imaging in vasculitis". Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 27 (1): 107–18. doi:10.1016/j.berh.2013.01.001. PMID 23507061.
  15. Suresh E (2006). "Diagnostic approach to patients with suspected vasculitis". Postgrad Med J. 82 (970): 483–8. doi:10.1136/pgmj.2005.042648. PMC 2585712. PMID 16891436.
  16. Stein PD, Dalen JE, McIntyre KM, Sasahara AA, Wenger NK, Willis PW (1975). "The electrocardiogram in acute pulmonary embolism". Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 17 (4): 247–57. PMID 123074.
  17. Warnier MJ, Rutten FH, Numans ME, Kors JA, Tan HL, de Boer A, Hoes AW, De Bruin ML (2013). "Electrocardiographic characteristics of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease". COPD. 10 (1): 62–71. doi:10.3109/15412555.2012.727918. PMID 23413894.
  18. Stein PD, Matta F, Ekkah M, Saleh T, Janjua M, Patel YR, Khadra H (2012). "Electrocardiogram in pneumonia". Am. J. Cardiol. 110 (12): 1836–40. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2012.08.019. PMID 23000104.
  19. Hazebroek MR, Kemna MJ, Schalla S, Sanders-van Wijk S, Gerretsen SC, Dennert R, Merken J, Kuznetsova T, Staessen JA, Brunner-La Rocca HP, van Paassen P, Cohen Tervaert JW, Heymans S (2015). "Prevalence and prognostic relevance of cardiac involvement in ANCA-associated vasculitis: eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis and granulomatosis with polyangiitis". Int. J. Cardiol. 199: 170–9. doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2015.06.087. PMID 26209947.
  20. Dennert RM, van Paassen P, Schalla S, Kuznetsova T, Alzand BS, Staessen JA, Velthuis S, Crijns HJ, Tervaert JW, Heymans S (2010). "Cardiac involvement in Churg-Strauss syndrome". Arthritis Rheum. 62 (2): 627–34. doi:10.1002/art.27263. PMID 20112390.

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