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Eur J Radiol. 2004 Aug;51(2):139-49.

Radiological manifestations of pulmonary tuberculosis.

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Department of Radiology, HGU Vall d'Hebron, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, Paseo Vall d'Hebron 116, Barcelona 08032, Spain.


Pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) is a common worldwide lung infection. The radiological features show considerable variation, but in most cases they are characteristic enough to suggest the diagnosis. Classically, tuberculosis is divided into primary, common in childhood, and postprimary, usually presenting in adults. The most characteristic radiological feature in primary tuberculosis is lymphadenopathy. On enhanced CT, hilar and mediastinal nodes with a central hypodense area suggest the diagnosis. Cavitation is the hallmark of postprimary tuberculosis and appears in around half of patients. Patchy, poorly defined consolidation in the apical and posterior segments of the upper lobes, and in the superior segment of the lower lobe is also commonly observed. Several complications are associated with tuberculous infection, such as hematogenous dissemination (miliary tuberculosis) or extension to the pleura, resulting in pleural effusion. Late complications of tuberculosis comprise a heterogeneous group of processes including tuberculoma, bronchial stenosis bronchiectasis, broncholithiasis, aspergilloma, bronchoesophageal fistula and fibrosing mediastinitis. Radiology provides essential information for the management and follow up of these patients and is extremely valuable for monitoring complications.

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