Viral respiratory tract infection

Last revised by Yuranga Weerakkody on 22 Apr 2022

Viral respiratory tract infection is a broad term given to pulmonary infection caused by viruses.


They can be caused by any of a large number of viral agents, including but not limited to:

RNA viruses
DNA viruses

Radiographic features

Plain radiograph / CT

The most common findings include bilateral perihilar peribronchial thickening and interstitial infiltrates which, particularly in children, due to their small-caliber airways, can result in areas of atelectasis or air trapping. Sometimes airspace consolidation or hemorrhage may also develop. Pleural effusion, hilar lymphadenopathy and pneumothorax are uncommon findings.

Imaging findings alone are not specific enough for the definitive diagnosis of viral pneumonia and radiographic patterns can be variable, depending on the specific viral strain, as well as host factors.

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: CMV infection
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  • Case 2: RSV pneumonia
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  • Case 3: RSV pneumonia in lung transplant recipient
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  • Case 4: H1N1 pneumonia
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  • Case 5: influenza A pneumonia
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  • Case 6: metapneumovirus - infant
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