[Radiological evaluation of incidental pulmonary nodules]

H. Prosch and C. Schaefer-Prokop

Radiologe 2013;53(7):623-638



Since the widespread use of computed tomography (CT), the detection of pulmonary nodules has considerably increased and has become part of the daily clinical routine. In the evaluation of pulmonary nodules, malignant nodules have to be differentiated from benign pulmonary nodules with a high level of confidence. The diagnostic approach for pulmonary nodules depends on the pretest probability for malignancy. For indeterminate pulmonary nodules <8 mm, non-contrast CT observational follow-up is recommended and depending on the size and pretest probability for malignancy, follow-up CT intervals range from 3 to 12 months. For indeterminate pulmonary nodules >8 mm, management is based on patient surgical risk and pretest probability for malignancy. Either CT follow-up alone, 18-fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) or non-surgical biopsy for tissue diagnosis are utilized to evaluate the lesions. For pulmonary nodules with a high pretest probability for malignancy, surgical resection is recommended unless specifically contraindicated.