Tumor Atelectasis Gives Rise to a Solid Appearance in Pulmonary Adenocarcinomas on High-Resolution Computed Tomography

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: Ground-glass opacities in a high-resolution computed tomography (HR-CT) scan correlate, if malignant, with adenocarcinoma in situ. The solid appearance in the HR-CT is often considered indicative of an invasive component. This study aims to compare the radiologic features revealed in the HR-CT and the histologic features of primary adenocarcinomas in resection specimens to find the presence of tumor atelectasis in ground-glass nodules (GGNs) and part-solid and solid nodules. Methods: HR-CT imaging was evaluated, and lung nodules were classified as GGNs, part-solid nodules, and solid nodules, whereas adenocarcinomas were classified according to WHO classification. Lepidic growth pattern with collapse was considered if there was reduction of air in the histologic section with maintained pulmonary architecture (without signs of pleural or vascular invasion). Results: Radiologic and histologic features were compared in 47 lesions of 41 patients. The number of GGN, part-solid, and solid nodules were two, eight, and 37, respectively. Lepidic growth pattern with collapse was observed in both GGN, seven of the eight part-solid (88%) and 24 of the 37 solid (65%) lesions. Remarkably, more than 50% of the adenocarcinomas with a solid appearance in HR-CT imaging had a preexisting pulmonary architecture with adenocarcinoma with a predominant lepidic growth pattern. In these cases, the solid component can be explained by tumor-related collapse in vivo (tumor atelectasis on radiologic examination). Conclusions: Tumor atelectasis is a frequent finding in pulmonary adenocarcinomas and may beside a ground glass opacity also result in a solid appearance in HR-CT imaging. A solid appearance on HR-CT cannot be attributed to invasion alone, as has been the assumption until now.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100018
JournalJTO Clinical and Research Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

Cite this