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Pulmonary emphysema
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Pulmonary emphysema

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Contributors: Joon B. Kim BS, Mary Anne Morgan MD, Michael W. Winter MD
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Synopsis

Pulmonary emphysema is a type of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) characterized by the loss of individual alveolar wall structures, resulting in larger and less efficient alveoli with air trapping. Shortness of breath begins gradually; it may take years for affected patients to seek treatment. Other findings include wheezing, cough, chest pain, cyanosis, and increased heart rate.

Emphysema is a chronic medical condition. While pharmacologic and lifestyle changes may improve symptoms, in general, patients have a gradual increase in symptoms and burden of disease with time. The primary cause is smoking and/or inhalation of other pollutants. Pulmonary emphysema can also be secondary to alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, which leads to unopposed elastase activity in the lung. Treatments include lifestyle changes, supplemental oxygen, medications, and possibly surgery.

Codes

ICD10CM:
J43.9 – Emphysema, unspecified

SNOMEDCT:
87433001 – Pulmonary emphysema

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Last Reviewed: 05/08/2019
Last Updated: 05/13/2019
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Pulmonary emphysema
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Pulmonary emphysema : Chest pain, Cough, Cigarette smoking, Weight loss, Dyspnea, Wheezing, HR increased, RR increased, Bibasilar crackles
Imaging Studies image of Pulmonary emphysema
Axial non-contrast CT image of the chest viewed in lung windows in the lower lungs. CT image demonstrates several well-defined regions of low attenuation, both centrilobular (straight black arrow) and paraseptal (straight white arrow) distribution consistent with emphysema. Vessels course through several of these regions (curved black arrow), confirming that these areas reflect parenchymal loss rather than cysts (also note the lack of walls). There is severe airways thickening and mucous plugging, compatible with chronic bronchitis.
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