Nocardiosis of the lung: chest radiographic findings in 21 cases

Feigin, D.S.

Radiology 159(1): 9-14


ISSN/ISBN: 0033-8419
PMID: 3952335
DOI: 10.1148/radiology.159.1.3952335
Accession: 005989205

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Pulmonary manifestations of nocardial infection were present in 21 patients, with microbiologic proof in all and pathologic proof in 12. An analysis of the findings in these patients, combined with a review of previous reports of nocardiosis, suggests several important conclusions for radiologists. First, nocardiosis may occur in otherwise healthy persons but is most common in compromised patients, especially those being treated with anti-inflammatory agents, particularly corticosteroids, for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other systemic diseases. As pathologic manifestations are both suppurative and granulomatous, the chest radiographic manifestations are pleomorphic and not specific. Consolidations and large irregular nodules, often cavitary, are most common; nodules, masses, and interstitial patterns also occur. Pleural effusions are quite common, and lymph nodes may be enlarged. Difficulty and slowness of culture growth, along with the lack of a serologic test for nocardiosis, necessitate its inclusion in the differential diagnosis for both compromised and noncompromised patients in whom an apparent pulmonary infection cannot be rapidly diagnosed.