Tuesday is time for another #RadiologyRounds! Time for some CXR reading and a differential diagnosis mnemonic Two women presented to the hospital with similar presentations. They are both in their 80s with multiple weeks of cough, fever, and fatigue. Here are the CXRs
The CXRs both showed cavities. They are thick-walled (>4mm) and gas-filled. Cavitary lung lesions are seen within infiltrates, nodules, or masses. There can be an air-fluid level within the cavity. Cysts have thinner walls. The findings were confirmed on CT scan
Cavitary lung lesions can have a broad differential so it is helpful to have a systematic approach. To make it easy, when you see this just remember: CAVITY
Bonus points to anyone who can fill in the Y
Both patients were ultimately diagnosed with pulmonary abscesses which improved with prolonged courses of antibiotics with anaerobic and gram-negative coverage.
We’re excited to be back with another Fellows’ Case Files. Today, we’re visiting the University of Pittsburgh to meet a fantastic fellow and a dedicated educator, and to hear about a fascinating case. Let us know if you’ve ever had a similar case, and share your interesting cases with us!
Meet Our Guests
Rachel Wojcik obtained her B.S. in Biology from Mercyhurst University and a Master’s in Liberal Studies from the University of Denver in Global Affairs with a focus on Healthcare. She completed her MD at the University of Colorado before completing her residency and chief resident year at the University of Pittsburgh and has continued her training at Pitt for PCCM fellowship.
Dr. Stephanie Maximous is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and is the Clinical Education APD for the Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship program. She completed her fellowship at Pitt in addition to obtaining a Master’s Degree in Medical Education there. She teaches in and directs courses throughout the medical school, residency, and fellowship and was recently awarded the 2023 Outstanding Subspecialty Teaching Attending Award from the housestaff.
Patient: A 70-year-old male with a history of idiopathic thrombocytopenia on chronic prednisone and a history of tobacco use disorder.
Presentation: Came to the hospital with 2-3 days of right-sided weakness and slurred speech.
Findings: MRI showed a moderate-sized left pontine stroke. A CT angiogram of the neck showed no evidence of an occlusion, but a spiculated two-centimeter nodule at the apex of the left lung was found.
Additional Information: He requires a walker for mobility and needs help with activities like taking a shower and dressing. He had an unintentional 20-pound weight loss over six months, increased fatigue, and malaise.
Previous Investigations: A chest x-ray ordered two months prior by his hematologist was unremarkable, and a CT of the abdomen and pelvis showed no masses.
Key Learning Points
Bronchoscopy in Decision Making:
The decision to perform bronchoscopy in patients depends on a myriad of factors, including the location of any lesions, accessibility, potential risks, and the potential diagnostic yield.
Fiber optic bronchoscopy with BAL can rule out infections, and if no diagnosis is reached, more invasive methods like surgical biopsy might be necessary.
Consider the location of consolidated masses; navigational bronchoscopy might be needed for lesions without a clear airway leading into them.
Nocardia is a gram-positive bacterium that stains weakly acid-fast.
It can be found in soil and certain water sources and can infect through the skin or by inhalation.
Two-thirds of patients with Nocardia are immunocompromised.
The dosage of Bactrim given for PJP prophylaxis doesn’t prevent Nocardia infections in immunocompromised individuals.
While the lungs are the most common infection site, Nocardia can manifest elsewhere, like the skin or CNS.
Bactrim is the mainstay of treatment for Nocardia. If someone is allergic, desensitizing them can be crucial.
IV induction phases vary in length depending on the severity of the disease.
The overall treatment duration is protracted to prevent relapse.
Bactrim for PJP prophylaxis doesn’t necessarily prevent Nocardia infections in immunocompromised individuals.
If someone is allergic to Bactrim, consider desensitizing them due to its importance in treating Nocardia.
We are back with our first #RadiologyRounds of the new academic year. We have a young, immunocompetent man presenting with fever, weight loss, and abdominal pain.
What abnormalities are seen on his chest imaging?
He was found to have bilateral apical cavitary disease, centrilobular nodules, and tree-in-bud opacities. He developed a productive cough with blood-tinged sputum as well as diarrhea.
Given his apical lung disease, what is on your differential?
When thinking about apical lung disease, remember the mnemonic REACTS to help with your differential.
What are tree-in-bud opacities? They are findings seen on CT chest suggesting bronchial dilation, inflammation, and bronchial filling with fluid, mucus, or pus that can be caused by infections and non-infectious etiologies.
He had sputum and AFB cultures sent and his AFB smear was positive. He was ultimately diagnosed with disseminated TB and started on RIPE therapy.
Join us as we head to Indiana University! Listen in as we discuss another great case and hear teaching points from our amazing guests.
Meet our Guests
Parth Savsani is currently an internal medicine resident at Indiana University School of Medicine. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He enjoys medical education and was selected to be the VA chief resident next year.
Maria Srour is a Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellow at Indiana University School of Medicine. She completed her internal medicine residency at Saint Louis University where she was also a chief resident, and received her medical degree from IU. She works in global health to improve care for sepsis patients in low resources settings, and is currently pursuing her MPH.
Laura Hinkle is a Indiana University die hard and has been there from her since medical school through residency and fellowship, and is now an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine and the Associate Program Director for the Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Fellowship. She will be taking over as the Program Director July 1, 2023. She is a dedicated educator and is the Key Clinical Educator for Pulmonary and Critical Care, and the Director of the Clinical Transitions Curriculum. Additionally, she is working on a Master’s Degree in Education through the University of Cincinnati.
A male in her early 60s is transferred from a neighboring facility with a 1 week history of fatigue and lethargy. Three days prior to presentation he developed dyspnea and increased weakness with a near fall at home. HIs family also reported recent fevers, chills, dyspnea, and diarrhea. On his way to seek evaluation, he developed slurred speech without any other focal abnormalities.
Additional information is summarized as below:
Follow along our episode to hear the final diagnosis and key teaching points from the case!
This week on Pulm PEEPs, Dave and Kristina are joined by Jason Maley and Ann Parker, two pulmonary and critical care physicians who are leaders in treating patients with Long COVID, or Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2. Both of them help run the Long COVID clinics at their respective institutions and are part of broader consortiums dedicated to patient care. They also both participate in research to improve outcomes for patients with Long COVID and Post-Intensive Care Syndrome. In this conversation, we cover the diagnosis of Long COVID, common symptoms, abnormal test findings, possible mechanisms of disease, the impacts of variants and vaccines, treatments, and the natural history of this condition. We hope this will be helpful for providers, patients, and family members.
Meet Our Guests
Jason Maley is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. He is the Director of the BIDMC Critical Illness and COVID-19 Survivorship Program, and the Co-Chair of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Postacute Sequeleae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC) initiative. He is NIH funded to study post-COVID patients.
Ann Parker is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins and is the Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Post-Acute COVID-19 team. She is NIH funded with her research focusing on survivors of respiratory failure and critical illness.
Key Learning Points
Long COVID or Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 or Post-COVID condition
Long COVID was first described this way by patients so this is the common nomenclature that is used. It is also referred to as Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 or Post-COVID condition
Defined by patients that have not returned to their baseline health 3 months after their acute episode of COVID-19
Major organizations in describing this disease and doing research are:
World Health Organization
Multiple patient-led organizations
CDC – INSPIRE
NIH – RECOVER
Seeing patients across the spectrum of illness. Not all patients had to be critically ill or hospitalized
The standard patient has changed over time and now the vast majority had a mild initial illness, but afterward had unusual and persistent symptoms
Patients are generally referred by their PCP or self-referred
The criteria for being seen in clinic are very loose to make sure patients are not excluded
Many patients do not have a confirmed case of COVID since patients early in the pandemic often did not have a positive test available, and now many people are testing positive at home
Initial records review to make sure that can help patients
Screening for physical impairment, mental health impairment, and cognitive impairment
Rehabilitation and multi-disciplinary based approach
It is extremely important to be aware of the bias in patient populations in Post-COVID clinics
The population that can make it to clinic may not, and does not, represent all patients who have had COVID or have Long COVID. Patients may be limited in their ability to get to clinic based on their physical condition, financial resources, location, support, and language barriers.
Overlap of Long COVID and PICS
These conditions are very similar and certainly have a lot of overlap
For patients coming out of the ICU, screening should start with looking for known PICS symptoms.
These domains are mental health, physical impairment, and cognitive function
There may be some unique aspects, such as:
Severe persistent fatigue
Extreme changes in taste and smell
Many symptoms are complex and multifactorial
Neuropsycholgoicl impairment – termed “brain fog”
Difficulty with concentration, and cognition
Persistent shortness of breath
Dyspnea can be reported even with just talking for long periods of time
“Deep breaths are just not satisfying”
Palpitations, dizziness, orthostasis
Cognitive blunting or “brain fog”
Changes in sleep
Common findings on testing in patients with Long COVID
Shortness of breath
Some may have impaired diffusion (low DLCO) on PFTs
However, often patients have normal or near-normal PFTs
10 – 20 % have air trapping on inspiratory/expiratory chest CTs that could indicate bronchiolitis
One study showed that CPETs showed impaired oxygen extraction
Preserved cardiac output to exercise and no evidence of deconditioning
This study indicated an issue at the peripheral level (ex: vascular, mitochondrial) with oxygen extraction.
It is very difficult to say if variants differ in rates of Long COVID given that often patients do not get sequencing to know the variant and because there is overlap in the timing of variants
Further testing will continue on this going forward
Reduced risk of Long COVID with vaccination
Boosting further decreases the risk compared to just the initial vaccination
There is a variable response to getting vaccinated if a patient has Long COVID
Most patients tolerate it well and some patients have relief of symptoms
There are some patients who can develop worsened Long COVID symptoms
References and further reading
Chippa V, Aleem A, Anjum F. Post Acute Coronavirus (COVID-19) Syndrome. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed November 14, 2022. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK570608/
Crook H, Raza S, Nowell J, Young M, Edison P. Long covid—mechanisms, risk factors, and management. BMJ. 2021;374:n1648. doi:10.1136/bmj.n1648
Durstenfeld MS, Sun K, Tahir P, et al. Use of Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing to Evaluate Long COVID-19 Symptoms in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Network Open. 2022;5(10):e2236057. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.36057
Nalbandian A, Sehgal K, Gupta A, et al. Post-acute COVID-19 syndrome. Nat Med. 2021;27(4):601-615. doi:10.1038/s41591-021-01283-z
Soriano JB, Murthy S, Marshall JC, Relan P, Diaz JV. A clinical case definition of post-COVID-19 condition by a Delphi consensus. Lancet Infect Dis. 2022;22(4):e102-e107. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(21)00703-9
Sudre CH, Murray B, Varsavsky T, et al. Attributes and predictors of long COVID. Nat Med. 2021;27(4):626-631. doi:10.1038/s41591-021-01292-y
This week’s #RadiologyRounds is brought to you by our newest contributor, Nick Ghionni! We’ll dive into a classic Radiology Sign and talk about what it represents, and how it helps inform your differential.
In this case, the patient underwent a biopsy that showed no malignancy but grew NTM! Given that NTM can be superimposed on malignancy, repeated biopsies were done that corroborated. She is being treated with close monitoring.
This week’s #RadiologyRounds is coming from the pulmonary clinic. Follow us on Twitter to see the case and answer our polls live!
Given the patient’s weight loss and persistent symptoms despite trying some empiric therapies, a chest CT was obtained. PFTs were also ordered 🙂
The patient’s CT had tree-in-bud opacities, nodular consolidations, scattered micronodular opacities, and airway thickening.
The pt had an induced sputum but could not produce a sample. She underwent bronchoscopy + lavage and her AFB smear was positive with negative TB NAAT. The culture ended up growing M. chimaera! Does that explain her symptoms? Here are the diagnostic criteria for pulmonary NTM:
All other testing was negative and the patient was diagnosed with pulmonary NTM. After a long discussion about treatment (an interesting topic for another day!!) she was started on triple antibiotic therapy and after 9 months her cough had resolved and she was gaining weight.