Pulmonary artery sarcoma

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Imaging description Pulmonary artery (PA) sarcoma is a rare tumor that is difficult to diagnose due to clinical presentation and imaging appearance that mimic pulmonary embolism. On contrast-enhanced CT, pulmonary artery sarcoma can appear nearly identical to a pulmonary embolism, usually appearing as a smooth, lowattenuation intraluminal filling defect (Figure 46.1). Clinically, the absence of risk factors for thrombus formation, progressive worsening of symptoms, and persistence of the pulmonary artery filling defect despite anticoagulation therapy should raise suspicion for pulmonary artery sarcoma (Figure 46.2). CT features that may help distinguish sarcoma from embolus include involvement of the main and proximal pulmonary artery branches, filling and expansion of the entire luminal diameter, and extravascular extension of soft tissue into the adjacent lung parenchyma. Contrast enhancement, when identified, is usually heterogenous and will suggest the diagnosis (Figure 46.1). However, enhancement may be difficult to appreciate on CT examinations performed with pulmonary embolism protocol due to early phase of acquisition. Delayed venous phase images or enhanced chest MRI with dynamic post-contrast imaging can be used to confirmthe presence of enhancement. PA sarcomas will show increased metabolic activity on FDG-PET examinations, which can be helpful in difficult cases.ImportanceIncorrect interpretation of a PA sarcoma as a pulmonary embolism will lead to a delay in diagnosis and delayed institution of proper treatment.Typical clinical scenario Pulmonary artery sarcomas are rare tumors, with only 250 cases reported in the literature to date. Patients are typically middle aged and usually present with symptoms of dyspnea.Differential diagnosis The primary differential diagnosis is bland thromboembolism. Metastatic tumor emboli from a non-lung primary can also present with enhancing, expansile pulmonary artery filling defects and should also be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPearls and Pitfalls in Cardiovascular Imaging
Subtitle of host publicationPseudolesions, Artifacts and Other Difficult Diagnoses
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages3
ISBN (Electronic)9781139152228
ISBN (Print)9781107023727
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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