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Lung diseases

Bullae in Both Lungs

12/26/2011

Question:

My 6 year old son was seen in the ER for viral symptoms and a CT was ordered to rule out an appendix problem and was diagnosed with bullae bilaterally in the bases of the lungs. He is active and has never had shortness of breath. What is the prognosis for some one so young diagnosed with this?

Answer:

Bullae at the bases of both lungs are quite unusual in a healthy 6- year-old with no previous history of pneumonia. It is difficult to say what this might mean without seeing the films. I do know that 6- year-olds are often not good at holding their breath while going through a CT scanner. If they are breathing as the scan of the lungs is done, the lung tissue can look abnormal. This might be contributing to what is being seen on the CT of his abdomen. 

I would recommend getting copies of the films (usually provided on CD) and taking them with you to an appointment with a pediatric pulmonologist. They, and their "go-to" pediatric chest radiologist, can look at the films and decide if the finding is "artifact" (blurring) or significant. Either way, if not done yet, a CT of his entire chest will likely be ordered in order to clarify matters. They will also see if your son can do some breathing tests to help determine how well his lungs are functioning. 

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Response by:

Elizabeth D Allen, MD Elizabeth D Allen, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University