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Lung India. 2013 Apr;30(2):124-30. doi: 10.4103/0970-2113.110420.

Role of HRCT in detection and characterization of pulmonary abnormalities in patients with febrile neutropenia.

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Department of Radiodiagnosis and Imaging, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.



Fever is of grave concern in the management of patients with neutropenia with early detection of a focus of infection being the major goal. As lungs are the most common focus, chest imaging is of vital importance. This Institute Review Board approved prospective study was undertaken to assess the usefulness of high resolution computed tomography (HRCT) in early detection and characterization of pulmonary abnormalities in febrile neutropenia.


A total of 104 consecutive patients (M:F:75:29, age range 11-66 years) with fever of 38.2°C or more with an absolute neutrophil count <500/μl underwent HRCT chest. HRCT diagnosis was compared with final diagnosis based on ancillary investigations.


HRCT could detect pulmonary abnormalities in 93 patients (89.4%) with air space consolidation being the predominant finding (n = 57), followed by ground-glass opacities (Ground glass opacity (GGO), n = 49) and nodules (n = 39). HRCT could correctly characterize the infective lesions in 76 patients (81.7%). Presence of random or pleural-based nodules >10 mm with or without surrounding GGO or cavitations was sensitive (95.23%) and specific (96.7%) for fungal infection, while small (1-4 mm) random or centrilobular nodules with tree-in-bud appearance was sensitive (90%) and highly specific (97.02%) for tuberculosis. Diagnosis of pyogenic infection based on presence of air-space consolidation, pleural effusion, GGO or centrilobular nodules showed a sensitivity of 84.78% and specificity of 93.84%, whereas patchy or diffuse GGO, interstitial thickening and/or air-space consolidation showed high sensitivity (86.7%) and specificity (96.8%) for Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia.


HRCT chest is an excellent modality in the diagnostic work-up of patients with febrile neutropenia allowing early detection and characterization of pulmonary abnormalities.


Febrile neutropenia; high resolution CT; imaging; pulmonary infections

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