Osteophyte induced adjacent pulmonary atelectasis and fibrosis

Last revised by Dr David Luong on 08 Mar 2022

Osteophyte induced adjacent pulmonary atelectasis and fibrosis are typically seen as focal pulmonary interstitial opacities adjacent to thoracic spinal osteophytes. They can be a relatively common finding in thoracic CT imaging.

They are more common in older individuals.

They are thought to represent a variable combination of compressive atelectasis ± fibrosis (focal pulmonary fibrosis).

They are typically seen involving the medial basal segment of the right lower lobe and posterior segment of the left lower lobe where osteophytes are more commonly located. 

Some studies have suggested that with the increased size of an osteophyte, the likelihood of lung fibrosis increases 3. Subpleural fat is considered to protect the lung from osteophyte induced fibrosis.

Most are not thought to be of clinical significance and generally do not appear to progress and are not considered a pre-clinical form of more extensive fibrosing lung disease 2.

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: osteophyte-induced atelectasis and fibrosis
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