A pulmonary nodule is a localized lesion in the lung that is seen as an opacity ("spot / shade") on the chest x-ray or pulmonary CT scan.
This pulmonary lesion is a frequent visit to a pulmonology clinic. It can have very different causes and therefore different degrees of importance, and may represent a totally harmless injury or a malignant injury, such as lung cancer.
Causes of the pulmonary nodule
The origin of the pulmonary nodule is very diverse and, fortunately, most of the causes are benign and will not produce serious complications. Some of the most frequent causes of this lung injury are:
- Residual injury or infection injuries
- Benign tumors - Respiratory infections
- Vascular malformations
- At other times lung nodules are secondary to lung cancer or metastases of another cancer in the lung.
Pulmonary nodule symptoms
Early diagnosis of the pulmonary nodule is essential, as these lesions usually have no symptoms at their origin. Usually these nodules are discovered when an x-ray, chest X-ray, or chest X-ray has been performed, otherwise it is an unexpected finding. Anyway the pulmonologists recommend performing these tests periodically, especially in smokers or respiratory problems.
In cases where the pulmonary nodule presents symptoms, these are non-specific and many patients confuse them with other diseases. Cough, changes in it, chest pain and bloody expectoration are the warning symptoms to go to the pulmonologist's office.
Diagnosis of the pulmonary nodule
To diagnose this lesion, in some cases with pulmonary CT or chest X-ray may be sufficient, especially if there are previous studies with the same lesion.
In many cases it will be necessary to perform a cytological or histological investigation to analyze the cells that compose the nodule and assess whether it is benign or not. This study will usually be done by analyzing sputum, or through bronchoscopy, which is the exploration of the bronchial tree or by thoracic punctures.
Pulmonary nodule treatment
The treatment of the pulmonary nodule will depend on the cause that caused it. In many cases, no treatment is needed, whereas in other cases it is necessary to treat it with antibiotic. In cases of tumor nodules the solution should be surgical.
At other times, when the suspicion of neoplasia is low after the detection of the pulmonary nodule, the patient should periodically take periodic radiographs to evaluate the evolution of the lesion in the lungs.