Honeycombing (lungs)

Last revised by Yuranga Weerakkody on 30 Aug 2023

Honeycombing is a CT imaging descriptor referring to clustered cystic air spaces (between 3 and 10 mm in diameter, but occasionally as large as 2.5 cm) that are usually subpleural, peripheral, and basal in distribution. They can be subdivided into:

The walls of the cysts are well-defined and often thick (1-3 mm) 4. They represent an irreversible finding commonly seen in diffuse pulmonary fibrosis (usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP)). 

Honeycombing consists of enlarged air spaces with thick fibrotic walls lined by bronchiolar epithelium and often filled with mucin and inflammatory cells 6.

The term “honeycomb lung” is thought to have originated in the 19th century in Germany and is thought to have first appeared in 1949 in a study by N Oswald and T Parkinson 5.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: photograph - Bee honeycomb
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  • Case 1
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  • Figure 2: honeycomb lung: gross pathology
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  • Case 2
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  • Case 3
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  • Case 4
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