Unilateral pulmoary oedema: cardiogenic

Case contributed by Dr Prat-Matifoll


41 year old patient who refers an acute onset of dyspnea 1 week ago. Past medical history includes alcoholism.

Patient Data

Age: 41
Gender: Male

Right perihilar haziness (compare it with the normal contralateral hilum) with peribronchial cuffing. and interlobular septal thickening (Kerley B lines).

Alveolar edema (note the distribution of the upper opacity, lying on the minor or horizontal fissure, this finding suggests a gravitational effect typical of pulmonary edema)

Bilateral pleural effusion with blunt right costophrenic angle and left Ellis Damoiseau line.

Annotated image

Yellow arrows: Right perihilar haziness.

Green arrows: Interlobular septal thickening (Kerley B line) and peribronchial cuffing.

Red arrows: Alveolar edema (note the distribution of the upper opacity, lying on the minor fissure, this finding suggests a gravitational effect typical of pulmonary edema)

Blue arrows: Bilateral pleural effusion with aright blunt costophrenic angle and left Ellis Damoiseau line.

Multiple CT images displayed with the lung window setting showing typical findings of pulmonary edema.

Cardiomegaly with a very enlarged left ventricle, displacing the interventricular septum towards the right ventricle, as well as an enlarged left auricle.

Bilateral pleural effusion.


One day later

One day after the first chest plain film: Reduction of the right perihilar haze, alveolar edema and bilateral pleural effusion. ​


Two days later

Two days after the first plain film: Resolution of the findings mentioned in the first x-ray with a persistent blunt left costophrenic angle.

Case Discussion

Pulmonary edema occurs when an increased hydrostatic pressure causes the pass of fluid from vessels to interstitium and alveolar space or when there is an injury to the lung parenchyma or vasculature which facilitates fluid movement.

There are several types of pulmonary edema, if we attend to its pathophysiology: increased hydrostatic pressure edema, permeability edema with diffuse alveolar damage (DAD), permeability edema without DAD, or mixed edema (increased hydrostatic pressure plus permeability changes):  

  1. Increased hydrostatic pressure: Bat wing edema (cardiogenic), asymmetric pulmonary edema (cardiogenic or underlying chronic pulmonary diseases), acute asthma, postobstructive pulmonary edema (relief from an airway obstruction), pulmonary thromboembolism (chronic overperfusion of non-affected lobes or in less than 10% of acute thromboembolism), veno-occlusive disease (lethal condition), near drowning edema (mild cases).
  2. Permeability edema with diffuse alveolar damage: DAD can be caused by an underlying pulmonary disease or by an extrapulmonary disease or agent (sepsis, pancreatitis, toxic gas, gastric fluid, blood transfusion...)
  3. Permeability edema without diffuse alveolar damage: Heroin-induced edema (10% mortality rate: depression of respiratory center, hypoxia and acidosis which cause a permeability changes), administration of cytokines, high-altitude edema (secondary to acute and persistent hypoxia).
  4. Mixed edema: neurogenic pulmonary edema (severe brain lesion), reperfusion pulmonary edema (thromboendarterectomy after massive thromboembolism), post-lung transplantation edema (the first 3 days, probably related to hypoxia), postreduction pulmonary edema (severe emphysema), reexpansion pulmonary edema, postpneumonectomy edema, air embolism. 
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Case information

rID: 45793
Case created: 8th Jun 2016
Last edited: 22nd Feb 2017
Systems: Chest, Cardiac
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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