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Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis complicated by acute thromboembolic disease: chest X-ray, HRCT and multi-detector row CT angiographic findings

Luigi Camera, Francesco Campanile, Massimo Imbriaco, Renato Ippolito, Cesare Sirignano, Ciro Santoro, Maurizio Galderisi, Marco Salvatore


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic diffuse interstitial disease characterized by a predominant reticular pattern of involvement of the lung parenchyma which can be well documented by High Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT). While almost half of the patients with IPF may develop pulmonary arterial hypertension, the occurrence of superimposed acute thrombo-embolic disease is rare.
We describe a case of an 87 yrs old female who was found to have IPF complicated by acute pulmonary thrombo-embolism during the clinical and radiological investigation of a rapidly worsening dyspnea. While chest x-ray findings were initially considered consistent with a congestive heart failure, a bed side echocardiography revealed findings suggestive of pulmonary arterial hypertension and right ventricular failure with enlargement of both right cavities and associated valvular regurgitations. An acute thrombo-embolic disease was initially ruled out by a perfusion lung scintigraphy and subsequently confirmed by contrast-enhanced multi-detector CT which showed an embolus at the emergency of the right inter-lobar artery with associated signs of chronic pulmonary hypertension. However, unenhanced scans performed with both conventional and high resolution techniques also depicted a reticular pattern of involvement of lung parenchyma considered suggestive of IPF despite an atypical upper lobe predominance. IPF was later confirmed by further clinical, serological and instrumental follow-up.

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