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Lung diseases

Density in left lung



in April, an xray of my lungs showed a small area of density in the left lobe. a CAT scan diagnosis indicated an inflamation. my Dr. said that it could be from bronchitis or some other infection. the density was not there when i had a previous xray in 1995. another xray in May showed the same density, unchanged. what could cause this? would it develop into something serious? in spring of 1996 i slipped and fell on my left shoulder in the bath; could the fall have caused the blemish. although my Dr. seems "cool" about this, i'm worried. could you give me some explanation?


Unfortunately, there is simply no good way to give you a meaningful opinion without actually viewing the films. Some generalities about x-rays may be helpful, however. X-ray images are really shadows, and as such x-rays are rarely absolutely diagnostic. However, there are characteristic patterns on x-rays that often are associated with either benign or non-benign conditions. If the x-ray appears more typical of a benign condition (such as inflammation or pneumonia), and in particular if you are at low risk of malignancy (say, a young person who never smoked), your physician may advise you to 'wait-and-see.' On the other hand, if the x-ray looks at all suspicious of a malignancy, or you are at higher risk (say an older person who has smoked most of his/her life), your physician may recommend a more aggressive plan of action. I can only surmise that your physician believes your risk of malignancy is low, and thus the careful observation. If you have doubts, ask your physician for a more detailed explanation. If you still are uneasy with his/her recommendation, perhaps a second opinion is in order. You will need to bring all the imaging studies with you, of course.

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Response by:

Stuart Green, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pathobiology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati