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Excessive thoracic computed tomographic scanning in sarcoidosis.
  1. J Maña,
  2. A S Teirstein,
  3. D S Mendelson,
  4. M L Padilla,
  5. L R DePalo
  1. Internal Medicine Service, Hospital de Bellvitge, Barcelona, Spain.


    BACKGROUND--The clinical value of computed tomographic (CT) scanning of the chest in the initial assessment of sarcoidosis was investigated. METHODS--One hundred consecutive patients referred to the sarcoidosis outpatient services of the Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York from 1990 to 1992 with a presumptive diagnosis of sarcoidosis were studied. The diagnosis was subsequently confirmed in all by a positive tissue biopsy sample or the Kveim-Siltzbach test. Clinical and laboratory data of each patient were reviewed. Chest radiographs were classified according to the classical stages of sarcoidosis. Thirty five of the 100 patients had a CT scan of the chest performed before presentation. The CT scans were compared with the presenting clinical data and standard chest radiographs in order to determine if they yielded useful additional information regarding diagnosis or treatment. RESULTS--The chest CT scan revealed no additional clinically relevant information compared with conventional chest radiographs in any of the 35 studies performed. In two patients mediastinal adenopathy was detected by CT scan which was not seen on standard radiographs. Two patients thought to exhibit hilar adenopathy and pulmonary infiltrations by standard radiography had no parenchymal disease on the CT scan. Bilateral parenchymal infiltrates were seen in one patient which were interpreted as unilateral infiltrates by standard radiographs. The variance between conventional radiographs and CT scans in these five patients was not clinically valuable. CONCLUSIONS--CT scans of the chest do not add clinically useful information to the standard chest radiographs in the initial assessment of sarcoidosis in patients presenting with the typical standard radiological patterns. CT scanning of the thorax is indicated in patients with proven or suspected sarcoidosis when the standard chest radiographs are normal or not typical of sarcoidosis, when signs or symptoms of upper airway obstruction are present, when the patient has haemoptysis, if there is a suspicion of a complicating second intrathoracic disease, or the patient is a candidate for lung transplantation.

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