Acute airspace opacification with lymphadenopathy is a subset of the differential diagnosis for generalised airspace opacification and includes:
post-obstructive causes (usually chronic, but 'new' changes can occur)
primary lung cancer
Adrenal calcification is not a rare finding in healthy asymptomatic people and is usually the result of previous haemorrhage or tuberculosis. Addison disease patients only occasionally develop calcification.
sepsis: Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome
Cervical lymphadenopathy in an adult can result from a vast number of conditions. They include:
from head and neck tumours
other neoplastic lesions
Human alpha fetoprotein (AFP) elevation may occur in a vast number of conditions:
liver tumours (hepatocellular carcinoma, hepatoblastoma)
<10 ng/ml is within normal limits
>20 ng/ml is above normal limits but has low specificity for tumour since it may occur in a setting of diffuse liver inj...
Architectural distortion is a mammographic descriptive term in breast imaging. It may be visualised as tethering or indentation of breast tissue.
Architectural distortion per se is not a mass. It is often due to a desmoplastic reaction in which there is focal disruption of the normal...
Asymmetrical mammographic density is a mammographic morphological descriptor. It is given when there is increased density in one of the breasts, on either one or both standard mammographic views but without evidence of a discrete mass. An asymmetrical density can be further characterised as:
Bat's wing or butterfly pulmonary opacities refer to a pattern of bilateral perihilar shadowing. It is classically described on a frontal chest radiograph but can also refer to appearances on chest CT 3-4.
Bat's wing pulmonary opacities can be caused by:
There are a number of benign metastasising tumours:
benign metastasising meningioma 1,2
benign metastasising leiomyoma 3
primary adenoma of thyroid 4
giant cell tumour of bone 5
Bilateral testicular lesions have a relatively limited differential diagnosis.
lymphoblastic leukemia (acute or chronic)
primary testicular lymphoma is rare but the testes are often the site of lymphoma/leukemia recurrence due to ...
There are several bony lesions that can involve or depict a sequestrum.
brodie abscess: osteomyelitis
certain soft tissue tumours (with bony extension)
malignant fibrous histiocytoma
metastasis (especially from breast ca...
Brachytherapy, also known as sealed source radiotherapy or endocurietherapy, is a form of radiotherapy where a radioactive source is placed, under the guidance of imaging, within or next to the area requiring treatment.
Brachytherapy is commonly used to treat localised prostate cancer, breast c...
Major duodenal papilla is a conic or cylindric protuberance at the medial aspect of the descending or horizontal duodenum at the site of the sphincter of Oddi. It is finding on small bowel follow-though (and endoscopy) and has a relatively long differential.
On cross sectional imaging, the unde...
CA-125 is a high-molecular-weight glycoprotein found on the surface of Mullerian and coelomic epithelial-derived cell types, and is the best known tumour marker for epithelial ovarian cancer 6. Importantly, it may also be elevated in several other conditions (see differential diagnosis section b...
CA 19-9 (carbohydrate antigen 19-9 or cancer antigen) is a serum antigen (monosialoganglioside) that has increased diagnostic use in the management of several malignancies, mainly of hepatopancreaticobiliary origin. It is non-specific, however, and can rise in both malignant and non-malignant co...
There are numerous causes of calcified mediastinal lymph nodes.
Common causes include:
infectious granulomatous diseases
Uncommon causes include:
Pneumocystis jiroveci (PCP) pneumonia
thyroid carcinoma: papi...
Serum carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a cell-adhesive glycoprotein that was discovered in colorectal cancer in 1965, and is hence one of the oldest and most used tumour markers. Its name derives from its normal expression in fetoembryonic liver, gut and pancreas tissue.
Normal range of CEA is...
The cardiophrenic space is usually filled with fat. However, lesions originating above or lower to the diaphragm can present as cardiophrenic angle lesions.
The more common lesions encountered include:
pericardial fat pad
pericardial fat necrosis
The differential for peripheral or ring enhancing cerebral lesions includes:
demyelination (incomplete ring)
tumefactive demyelinating lesion (incomplete ring)
Unfortunately the paediatric population is susceptible to malignancies. The most common entities, in overall order of frequency, are 1-4:
leukaemia/lymphoma: ~35% *
acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: 23%
Hodgkin disease: 5%
acute myelogenous leukaemia: 4%
central nervous system malignancies: ~2...
Clavicle tumours may be malignant or benign.
osteoma: uncommon, sclerotic, hamartomatous surface lesion
enchondroma: rare, geographic, intramed...
Cutaneous and subcutaneous metastases are not uncommon, occurring in ~5% (range 0.7-10.4%) of internal malignancies, and representing 2% of skin cancers. Sister Mary Joseph nodule is a well known cutaneous metastases.
These metastases can come from haematogenous or lymphatic spread, ...
The differential for cystic lesions of the pancreas includes:
intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN)
serous cystadenoma uncommonly uni/macrolocular
simple pancreatic cyst
pancreatic cysts occur in association with
von Hippel Lindau syndrome
Cystic or necrotic appearing lymph nodes can be caused by a number of infectious, inflammatory or malignant conditions:
squamous cell carcinoma metastases
plasmacytoid T-cell leukemia
acute myeloid leukemia
herpes simplex lymphadenit...
Cystic pulmonary metastases are atypical morphological form on pulmonary metastases where lesions manifest as distinct cystic lesions. It is slightly different form the term cavitating pulmonary metastases in that the lesions are extremely thin walled.
It has been reported with many ...
An anterosuperior mediastinal mass can be caused by neoplastic and non-neoplastic pathology. As their name suggests, they are confined to the anterior mediastinum, that portion of the mediastinum anterior to the pericardium and below the level of the clavicles.
The differential diagnosis for a...
A diffuse homogeneous bone marrow FDG uptake usually reflects hyperplastic bone marrow which can be seen in the following conditions:
granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF)
Endosteal scalloping refers to the focal resorption of the inner layer of the cortex (i.e. the endosteum) of bones, most typically long bones, due to slow-growing medullary lesions.
It is important to note that although it is evidence of a slow non-infiltrative lesion, it does not equate to ben...
Fetal cardiac tumours refer to primary cardiac tumours that can present in the in utero population.
Fetal cardiac tumours are rare; the prevalence, reported from autopsy studies of patients of all ages, varies from 0.0017-0.28 % 2.
Known cardiac tumour types that pres...
Generalised osteopenia refers to osteopenia diffusely affecting the bones.
The differential diagnosis is wide and includes includes:
osteoporosis: decreased osteoid production
osteomalacia: undermineralisation of osteoid
HIV-associated neoplasms are numerous and can be broadly divided into two groups:
associated but not AIDS defining malignancies
The development of these malignancies in HIV affected individuals generally implies progression to AIDS 4:
There are several tumours which are noted to cause hypervascular metastases. The list of differential diagnoses includes:
renal cell carcinoma (RCC)
breast cancer: homogeneously hypervascular liver metastases from breast are considered rare 3
Hypothalamic lesions are numerous representing some entities that are unique to the hypothalamus, as well as many lesions that can be seen elsewhere within the brain. Additionally, due to its proximity to the optic chiasm, third ventricle and pituitary region, many lesions of these locations can...
Intramedullary spinal metastases are rare, occurring in ~1% of autopsied cancer patients, and are less common than leptomeningeal metastases.
Intramedullary lesions may result from:
growth along the Virchow-Robin spaces
direct extension from leptomeninges
Intraventricular neoplasms are rare and arise from periventricular structures such as the walls of the ventricular system, the septum pellucidum and the choroid plexus. Many tumour types arise from, or can bulge into the ventricular system, although there are certain lesions that are relatively ...
Leptomeningeal enhancement refers to a diffuse or focal gyriform or serpentine enhancement that can be seen in the following conditions:
tuberculous meningitis (can also be focal)
CNS cryptococcal infection
coccidioidal meningitis (c...
Male breast disease includes a wide spectrum of conditions. Many conditions and entities that affect the female breast may also affect the male breast.
male breast cancer
pseudogynaecomastia: fat deposition within the...
Malignant melanoma is a malignant neoplasm that arises from melanocytes (or cells that derive from melanocytes). Melanocytes predominantly occur in the basal layer of the epidermis and most melanomas, therefore, arise in the skin. However, melanocytes do occur in other locations and can give r...
Mandibular lesions are myriad and common. The presence of teeth results in lesions that are specific to the mandible (and maxilla) and a useful classification that defines them as odontogenic or non-odontogenic. While it may often not be possible to make a diagnosis on imaging alone, this classi...
Mediastinal lymph node enlargement can occur from a wide range of pathologies. It may occur on its own or in association with other lung pathology.
Although mediastinal lymphadenopathy is used interchangeably - by some - with "mediastinal lymph node enlargement", they are not synon...
The differential diagnosis for multiple cystic neck lesions is different to that for a solitary cystic neck mass.
Cystic neck lesions are seen in:
necrotic metastatic SCC nodes: older patient, M>F
papillary thyroid carcinoma metastases: usually a younger patient, F>M
Ocular pathology covers a wide range of conditions and therefore represents the cause of a wide range of symptoms, signs and radiographic features.
Ocular metastases account for over 80% of all ocular pathology. With regard to the remainder of ocular lesions, the primary differentiating factor ...
Oligometastases refers to distant disease that is limited in number and distribution, Niibe et al. defined this as ≤5 metastatic/recurrent lesions with control of the primary lesion 1,2. These metastases can be treated with local measures (surgery, radiation therapy, etc.) with the aim of increa...
Omental cake refers to infiltration of the omental fat by material of soft-tissue density. The appearances refer to the contiguous omental mass simulating the top of a cake. Masses on the peritoneal surfaces and malignant ascites may also be present.
The most common cause is metasta...
Enlargement of the optic nerves is uncommon and has a surprisingly broad differential:
optic nerve glioma
optic nerve meningioma
Pancreatic calcifications can arise from many aetiologies.
Punctate intraductal calcifications
alcoholic pancreatitis (20-40%) 2
intraductal, numerous, small, irregular
preponderant cause of diffuse pancreatic intraductal calcification
gallstone pancreatitis (2%) 2
There are numerous primary pancreatic neoplasms, in part due to the mixed endocrine and exocrine components.
Classification based on function
exocrine: ~99% of all primary pancreatic neoplasms
pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma ~90-95%
intraductal papillary muc...
Parotid enlargement (also known as parotidomegaly) has a wide differential given the significant breadth of pathology that can affect the parotid gland. These can be separated by the standard surgical sieve approach into infective, inflammatory, immune, neoplastic, infiltrative, and congenital c...
Patellar tumours are extremely rare. They can be either benign or malignant primary bone tumours, or metastases.
Patellar tumours represent just 0.1% of all primary bone tumours 1.
Patients may present with anterior knee pain and/or a palpable mass 1,3.
A pedunculated intratracheal mass has a variety of differential diagnoses:
benign tumour, e.g. hamartoma, chrondroma, lipoma
metastasis to tracheal mucosa, e.g. renal cell carcinoma, melanoma
polyp, e.g. inflammatory, antrochoanal
Pelvic masses in females carry a broad differential diagnosis:
benign adnexal cyst: 34%
pelvic malignancy: 14%
pelvic inflammatory disease: 8%
Extra-gynaecological masses, e.g. colorectal carcino...
Peritoneal calcification is seen in a limited number of conditions that result in calcification of peritoneal structures. Therefore, the differential diagnosis is small:
psammoma bodies in malignancy (most frequently cystadenocarcinoma of the ovary): fine sand-like calcification
PET-CT is a combination of cross-sectional anatomic information provided by CT and the metabolic information provided by positron emission tomography (PET).
PET is most commonly performed with 2-[F-18]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG). Fluorine-18 (F-18) is an unstable radioisotope and has a half-...
Pleural involvement with lymphoma can occur in two situations:
primary pleural lymphoma
primary effusion lymphoma
secondary involvement of the pleura with lymphoma
Post surgical breast scar is a benign complication that usually occurs following surgical intervention to breast tissue. It can however be a strong and potentially very confusing mimicker of breast malignancy.
Review of the patient's past history and previous mammography...
Primary benign cardiac tumours are much less common than secondary metastatic deposits. However they are more likely when a cardiac mass is seen outside of the setting of terminal metastatic disease. Tumours include 1-2:
most common in adults
accounts for ~50% of all primary be...
There are a number of primary malignancies of the nasopharynx:
nasopharyngeal carcinoma (squamous cell carcinoma): 70%
lymphoma (sinonasal lymphoma): 20%
adenoid cystic carcinoma
Pseudocirrhosis is a radiological term used to recapitulate imaging findings of cirrhosis, but occurring in the setting of hepatic metastases. It is most commonly reported following chemotherapeutic treatment of breast cancer metastases, although has also been reported before treatment, and with...
Pulmonary metastases are common and the result of metastatic spread from a variety of primary tumours via blood or lymphatics.
This article describes haematogenous pulmonary metastases with lymphangitis carcinomatosis discussed separately.
The epidemiology will match that of the ...
Pure ground glass lung nodules are a subtype of ground glass lung nodules where there is no associated solid component.
They have been shown to represent various pathologies such as 1,3
adenocarcinoma in situ of lung
minimally-invasive adenocarcinoma of lung
invasive adenocarcinoma of lung
RASopathies are a class of developmental disorders caused by germline mutations in genes that encode for components or regulators of the Ras/mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway.
As a group, RASopathies represent one of the most common malformation syndromes, with an in...
Response evaluation criteria in solid tumours or RECIST refers to a set of published rules used to assess tumour burden in order to provide an objective assessment of response to therapy. They were initially introduced in 2000 and have undergone subsequent revision in 2009 (RECIST 1.1).
Salivary gland tumours are variable in location, origin, and malignant potential.
In general, the ratio of benign to malignant tumours is proportional to the gland size; i.e. the parotid gland tends to have benign neoplasms, the submandibular gland 50:50, and the sublingual glands a...
Smoking related lung diseases are the respiratory manifestations of disease that is related to smoking. Smoking affects the lungs in numerous ways, and can be classified under the following headings:
smoking related interstitial lung diseases (SR-ILD)
Soft-tissue sarcomas are a heterogeneous group of malignant tumours of mesenchymal origin (sarcoma) that originate from the soft tissues rather than bone. They are classified on the basis of tissue seen on histology. The commoner sarcomas in the adult and paediatric population are listed below.
Solid lesions with enhancement is by far the most commonly encountered appearance of pituitary region masses.
by far the most common entity
typically enhances less vividly than other entities
elevates the dura of the diaphragma sella (as the origin is wit...
Solid periosteal pattern is thought to evolve from single layer and multilayered periosteal reactions, forming a solid layer of new bone adjacent to the cortex.
It can be seen in:
The differential diagnosis of a solitary sclerotic bone lesion is heavily influenced by the age of the patient, and includes:
solitary either because no others are present or no others have been imaged
enostosis (bone island)
Spinal metastases is a vague term which can be variably taken to refer to metastatic disease to any of the following:
vertebral metastases (94%)
may have epidural extension
intradural extramedullary metastases (5%)
intramedually metastases (1%)
Each of these are discussed separately. Below ...
Superscan is intense symmetric activity in the bones with diminished renal and soft tissue activity on a Tc99m diphosphonate bone scan.
This appearance can result from a range of aetiological factors:
diffuse metastatic disease
transitional cell carcinoma (...
The differential diagnosis for a terminal ileitis is quite extensive, and includes:
inflammatory bowel disease
Crohn disease (most common)
backwash ileitis due to ulcerative colitis
Testicular cancers are the most common neoplasm in men between the ages of 20 and 34.
Testicular cancer is uncommon, accounting for less than 1% of all internal organ malignancies 2.
The demographics of affected individuals depends on the age of the histology of the tumour. Over ...
Thyroid malignancies are most commonly primary thyroid cancers but can rarely be metastatic deposits.
Thyroid malignancies can be categorised into the following key subtypes:
primary thyroid cancers
papillary thyroid carcinoma: 60-80% of carcinomas
The differential for tracheal masses can be rather wide.
For a single mass consider:
direct invasion from adjacent organ (lung, thryoid,esophagus)
distant metastsis ( such as melanoma)
squamous cell carcinoma: commonest primary tracheal malignancy 2 ~50 %
Tuberculosis of the central nervous system can result from either haematogenous spread from distant systemic infection (e.g. pulmonary tuberculosis) or direct extension from local infection (e.g. tuberculous otomastoiditis).
Intracranial manifestations of tuberculosis are protean and can affect...
Tumours of the male urethra are uncommon. They can be categorised both on the grounds of histology and location.
squamous cell carcinoma of the urethra: 80%
urothelial/transitional cell carcinoma of the urethra: 15% (predominantly posterior urethra)
adenocarcinoma of the urethra: 5...
Ultrasound appearance of liver metastases can have bewildering variation, and the presence of hepatic steatosis can affect the sonographic appearance of liver lesions.
Patterns do exist between ultrasound appearance of the liver metastases and the likely prima...
Unilateral axillary lymphadenopathy while being more concerning than bilateral axillary lymphadenopathy can still arise from a various benign as well as malignant causes.
other regional infective causes
ipsilateral arm infection, e.g. cellulitis
Vertebra plana (a.k.a. pancake / silver dollar / coin-on-edge vertebra) is the term given when a vertebral body has lost almost its entire height anteriorly and posteriorly, representing a very advanced compression fracture. Plural is vertebrae planae. It can occur in a variety of settings, incl...