Pulmonary cavities

Last revised by Dr Yuranga Weerakkody on 20 Feb 2021

Pulmonary cavities are thick-walled abnormal gas-filled spaces within the lung. They are usually associated with a nodule, mass, or area of consolidation. A fluid level within the space may be present. Plain radiography and CT form the mainstay of imaging.

According to the Fleischner Society, pulmonary cavities are defined as "a gas-filled space, seen as a lucency or low-attenuation area, within pulmonary consolidation, a mass, or a nodule" 7.

The cause of pulmonary cavities is broad. They may develop as a chronic complication of a pulmonary cyst or secondary to cystic degeneration of a pulmonary mass. They may enlarge or involute over time.

Pulmonary cavities may be the result of malignancy, infection, inflammation, or be congenital:

A helpful mnemonic is CAVITY

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Cases and figures

  • Case 2: granulomatosis with polyangitis
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  • Case 3: post pneumotic pneumatocoele
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  • Case 4: cavitating pneumonia
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  • Case 5: pulmonary cryptococcosis
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  • Case 6: tuberculosis
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  • Case 7: SCC
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  • Case 8: cavitating adenocarcinoma
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