Trecheobronchial papillomatosis refers to the occurrence of multiple squamous cell papillomas involving trachea and bronchi. It is the most common benign tumour in laryngo-tracheal region.
Multiple papillomas can occur at other sites which have distinctive terms. Examples include:
This article covers the laryngo-tracheo-bronchial type.
There is a recognised bi-modal age distribution. The juvenile type is typically (and not surprisingly) seen in children. In adults, there is an association with smoking.
The lesions consist of squamous cell papillomata (which are abnormal proliferations of squamous epithelium), which are thought to occur due to infection of the mucosa with HPV 6 and 11 (possibly also 16 and18). Lesions often tend to be limited to the nasopharynx but can descend to involve the tracheobronchial tree in 1-5% of cases. Isolated tracheobronchial involvement is seen more frequently in adults. Lesions may be sessile, papillary, lobulated, or polypoid.
Chest radiographs are often normal, especially if lesions are limited to the larynx. If more extensive, small lesions can be appreciated which may appear solid or cavitatory 7.
Typically CT demonstrates thin walled cysts with adjacent nodules. These are 2-3 mm in size 7.
With more widespread disease there may be a dorsal (posterior) predilection due to gravity.
Treatment and prognosis
Although tracheobronchial papillomas tends to be slow growing treatment is usually ineffective with high recurrence rate (~ 90%). With disease progression and dissemination comes gradual respiratory failure and an overal poor prognosis. Bronchoscopic excision with or without laser therapy has been traditionally performed with disappointing results.
There is a small risk of malignant degeneration into squamous cell carcinoma of the treacheo-bronchial tree.
General imaging differential considerations include:
- 1. Kramer SS, Wehunt WD, Stocker JT et-al. Pulmonary manifestations of juvenile laryngotracheal papillomatosis. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1985;144 (4): 687-94. AJR Am J Roentgenol (abstract) - Pubmed citation
- 2. Worrell JA, O'donnell DM, Carroll FE et-al. Chest case of the day. Respiratory tract papillomatosis. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1992;158 (6): 1359-60. AJR Am J Roentgenol (citation) - Pubmed citation
- 3. Ko JM, Jung JI, Park SH et-al. Benign tumors of the tracheobronchial tree: CT-pathologic correlation. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2006;186 (5): 1304-13. doi:10.2214/AJR.04.1893 - Pubmed citation
- 4. Marom EM, Goodman PC, Mcadams HP. Diffuse abnormalities of the trachea and main bronchi. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2001;176 (3): 713-7. AJR Am J Roentgenol (full text) - Pubmed citation
- 5. Kersschot EA, Hermans ME, Pauwels C et-al. Juvenile papillomatosis of the breast: sonographic appearance. Radiology. 1988;169 (3): 631-3. Radiology (abstract) - Pubmed citation
- 6. Fava M, Foradori G, Cruz F et-al. Papillomatosis of the common bile duct associated with ampullary carcinoma. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1991;156 (2): 405-6. AJR Am J Roentgenol (citation) - Pubmed citation
- 7. Ravin CE, Bergin D, Bisset GS et-al. Image interpretation session: 2000. Radiographics. 21 (1): 267-87. Radiographics (full text) - Pubmed citation