Eosinophilic lung diseases are heterogenous group of disorders that are characterised by excess infiltration of the eosinophils within the lung interstitium and alveoli and are broadly divided into three main groups 1:
- idiopathic: unknown causes
- secondary: known causes
- eosinophilic vasculitis: Churg-Strauss syndrome
Diagnosis is made based on one of the followings:
- pulmonary opacities on a chest radiograph or HRCT chest with peripheral eosinophilia
- tissue eosinophilia at either open or transbronchial lung biopsy
- increased eosinophils in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid
Simple pulmonary eosinophilia (SPE)
Simple pulmonary eosinophilia (also known as Loffler syndrome) is benign and self-limiting condition, characterised by mild symptoms and plain radiographic findings usually much more impressive than the patient's condition, and classically have a reverse bat's wing appearance. Blood eosinophilia is a feature.
Acute eosinophilic pneumonia (AEP)
Acute eosinophilic pneumonia (AEP) usually manifests with acute onset fever, severe dyspnoea and hypoxia for <5 days with rapid progression and shows rapid improvement when treated with steroids and usually no relapse after treatment. Pulmonary lavage reveals > 25% eosinophils. The aetiology of AEP is unknown. It has been suggested that it may represent acute hypersensitivity to an inhaled antigen. CT findings include bilateral patchy areas of ground-glass opacity and interlobular septal thickening.
Chronic eosinophilic pneumonia (CEP)
Chronic eosinophilic pneumonia is characterised by homogeneous peripheral airspace consolidation lasting >6 months, which responds to steroid treatment. This appearance results in a reverse bat's wing appearance. About 50% of patients with CEP have asthma. CEP may be difficult to differentiate from Churg-Strauss syndrome (CSS). While CEP has homogeneous peripheral airspace consolidations, the consolidations in CSS tends to be more lobular in distribution. In addition, CSS tends to have centrilobular nodules.
Idiopathic hypereosinophilic syndrome (IHS)
Idiopathic hypereosinophilic syndrome is a systemic disorder with damage to heart and the CNS. On CT, one finds nodules with a ground-glass halo, similar to SPE. In contrast to SPE, the opacities do not resolve spontaneously. In addition, approximately 50% of cases are associated with pleural effusions.
Non specific findings on chest radiography and CT:
- nitrofurantoin (which also progresses onto pulmonary fibrosis)
- eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome from contaminated L-tryptophan
- toxic oil syndrome
- Aspergillus fumigatus (asthmatic pulmonary eosinophilia)
Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA)
Bronchocentric granulomatosis (BG)
Bronchocentric granulomatosis (BG) is a rare disorder with nonspecific radiographic findings. Approximately two-thirds of cases are not associated with tissue eosinophilia. The remaining one-third have peripheral eosinophilia, asthma, fungal hyphae at biopsy and positive sputum cultures for Aspergillus.
Churg-Strauss syndrome (CSS)
Churg Strauss syndrome (also known as allergic granulomatosis and angiitis), is associated with CT findings similar to CEP. Like CEP, CSS is seen in asthma patients. In contrast to CEP, the subpleural consolidations tend to have a lobular distribution and tend to be migratory or transient. In addition, centrilobular nodules are found on CT.
- 1. Jeong YJ, Kim KI, Seo IJ et-al. Eosinophilic lung diseases: a clinical, radiologic, and pathologic overview. Radiographics. 27 (3): 617-37. doi:10.1148/rg.273065051 - Pubmed citation
- 2. Johkoh T, Müller NL, Akira M et-al. Eosinophilic lung diseases: diagnostic accuracy of thin-section CT in 111 patients. Radiology. 2000;216 (3): 773-80. Radiology (full text) - Pubmed citation