What is bronchiectasis…

EM REMS

This patient presented with dyspnea and had “bronchiectasis:”

BronchiectasisBronchiectasis CXR

Bronchiectasis is a disease process in which there is localized, irreversible dilitation of the bronchial tree.  The dilitation occurs because of destruction of the normal musculature and elastic connective tissue surrounding the bronchi.  Clinically it presents as an obstructive respiratory picture similar to asthma and COPD.  The most common causes are cystic fibrosis and multiple infectious organisms (bacterial, aspergillosis, tuberculosis, histoplasmosis).  The dilated bronchi easily collapse causing air and mucus trapping, which in turn can lead to frequent respiratory infections.

Radiographically, CT scan is the diagnostic modality of choice if bronchiectasis is suspected.  Classically on plain radiograph “tram-tracking” occurs (parallel thickening of the bronchial walls) as well as cystic changes.  CT scan can further deliniate bronchiectasis by showing “tree-in-bud” abnormalities as well as multiple other signs.  For more in-depth information on radiographic findings please refer to Radiopaedia.org:

Bronchiectasis

Author:  Russell Jones, MD

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