Air bronchogram refers to the phenomenon of air-filled bronchi (dark) being made visible by the opacification of surrounding alveoli (grey - white). It is almost always caused by a pathologic airspace (alveolar) process, in which something other than air fills the alveoli. Air bronchograms will not be visible if the bronchi themselves are opacified (e.g. by fluid).
Air bronchograms can be seen with several processes, including the following :
- pulmonary consolidation
- pulmonary oedema
- non-obstructive atelectasis
- severe interstitial lung disease
- neoplasms - bronchioloalveolar carcinoma; pulmonary lymphoma
- pulmonary infarct
- normal expiration
The air bronchogram indicates patent proximal airways.
Air bronchogams that persist for weeks despite appropriate antimicrobial therapy should raise the suspicion of a neoplastic process. CT or guided biopsy may be planned in such cases.
- 1. Reed JC. Chest radiology, plain film patterns and differential diagnoses. Mosby. (1997) ISBN:0815171226. Read it at Google Books - Find it at Amazon
- 2. Wong JS, Weisbrod GL, Chamberlain D et-al. Bronchioloalveolar carcinoma and the air bronchogram sign: a new pathologic explanation. J Thorac Imaging. 1994;9 (3): 141-4. - Pubmed citation
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