Malignant pleural mesothelioma: Computed tomography and correlation with histology

European Journal of Radiology. 2008 Mar 20 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Jean M. Seelya, Elsie T. Nguyen, Andrew M. Churgb

  • Department of Diagnostic Imaging, The Ottawa Hospital, 1053 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 4E9, Canada
  • University of British Columbia, 2211 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1W5, Canada
  • University of British Columbia, Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre, 855 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9, Canada


Objective: To review the computed tomography (CT) imaging findings of pleural mesothelioma at presentation and to correlate the CT with the histological subtype.

Materials and methods: Pathology reports from 1997 to 2006 were reviewed at two academic institutions to identify patients with proven pleural mesothelioma. Diagnosis was based on histologic findings in specimens obtained by transthoracic needle biopsy, surgical biopsy or resection. All histology slides were reviewed by a lung pathologist. CT scans, available in 92 patients, were reviewed blindly and in random order by two independent radiologists. Kappa analysis was completed to assess inter-observer agreement. Eighty patients in whom there was no significant delay between CT imaging and histological diagnosis were assessed by logistic regression analysis to correlate CT and histologic findings.

Results: Seventy-two of the 92 mesotheliomas were epithelial, 15 sarcomatous, and 5 of mixed histology. All patients (77 male, 15 female, mean age 68 years) had pleural thickening on CT; the thickening was nodular in 79 patients (86%) and mediastinal in 87 (95%). Ipsilateral volume loss was seen in 42 patients (46%). Pleural effusions were present in 80 patients (87%), being large (>2/3 hemithorax) in 19 patients (21%). Atypical features at presentation included bilateral disease in three patients (3%), and spontaneous pneumothoraces in nine patients (10%). Internal mammary lymphadenopathy was observed in 48 patients (52%) and cardiophrenic lymphadenopathy in 42 (46%). Inter-observer agreement was excellent (average kappa = 0.89). Ipsilateral volume loss was associated with sarcomatous or mixed mesothelioma (p = 0.004). Using logistic regression analysis, other CT findings did not correlate with histological subtype.

Conclusions: Ipsilateral volume loss is most frequently associated with sarcomatous or mixed mesothelioma. The remaining imaging findings are not helpful in predicting the histological subtype of malignant mesothelioma.

Keywords: Mesothelioma; CT; Pleura; Malignancy; Pathology