Diffuse alveolar haemorrhage

Diffuse alveolar haemorrhage (DAH) is a subset of diffuse pulmonary haemorrhage when bleeding is diffuse and directly into the alveolar spaces. It can occur in a vast number of clinical situations and can be life threatening.

Blood tends to fill alveolar spaces at multiple sites.

Causes include:

The clinical context is crucial in image interpretation. The exact pattern may differ depending on the underlying cause. In general, the typical feature on plain film during an acute diffuse alveolar haemorrhage is a diffuse infiltrative opacification pattern 5. At times there may a slight predilection towards the mid zones 5 with some apical sparing 8.

The HRCT pattern can vary with time of onset of the haemorrhage and the clinical context is crucial in image interpretation:

  • acute phase
    • can range from lobular or lobar areas of ground-glass opacities to predominant consolidation 
    • ground-glass opacity is generated by subtotal alveolar filling with blood and is accompanied by apparent prominence of segmental and subsegmental bronchi, which has been referred to as the “dark bronchus sign"
  • 2–3 days
  • between chronic recurrent bleeding events
    • ill-defined centrilobular nodules  
      • reflecting intra-alveolar accumulation of pulmonary macrophages 
      • usually uniform in size (1-3 mm) 
      • diffusely distributed
      • no zonal predominance
  • with severe repeated haemorrhage: may progress with features of interstitial fibrosis

Repeated episodes can lead to an organising pneumonia, collagen deposition in small airways and ultimately pulmonary fibrosis 7-8.

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Article information

rID: 19690
System: Chest
Section: Gamuts
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Diffuse alveolar haemorrhage (DAH)
  • Diffuse alveolar hemorrhage (DAH)
  • Diffuse alveolar haemorrhages
  • Diffuse alveolar hemorrhage
  • Diffuse pulmonary alveolar hemorrhage
  • Diffuse pulmonary alveolar haemorrhage
  • Diffuse alveolar bleeding

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