Purpose: Pneumococcal pneumonia is the most common etiology for community-acquired pneumonia. The prevalence of lymphadenopathy seen on CT scans in these patients is uncertain. The purpose of this series was to assess the prevalence of intrathoracic lymphadenopathy in hospitalized patients with pneumococcal pneumonia.
Materials and methods: We retrospectively identified 35 hospitalized patients with pneumococcal pneumonia who had been evaluated with CT scanning between January 1998 and April 2002. There were 18 men and 17 women with a mean age of 56 years. The study inclusion criteria were as follows: blood culture positive for Streptococcus pneumoniae, clinical diagnosis of pneumonia, and chest CT scan. The study exclusion criteria were known causes of lymphadenopathy. Charts were reviewed for HIV status, smoking history, and comorbidities. CT scans were reviewed for the presence and degree of lymphadenopathy, and the characteristics of pneumonia. The number of enlarged lymph nodes was graded as few (one to two), moderate (three to five), or many (six or more). Pneumonias were described by location, the number of involved lobes, the presence of cavitation, and the presence of pleural effusion. Patients with different comorbidities and different imaging characteristics of pneumonia were compared.
Results: Among the 35 patients with pneumococcal pneumonia, intrathoracic lymphadenopathy was present on CT scans in 54% of patients (19 of 35 patients). The lymphadenopathy was ipsilateral to the pneumonia in 100% of patients (19 of 19 patients). One patient also had contralateral lymphadenopathy. The lymphadenopathy was graded as few in 37% of patients (7 of 19 patients), moderate in 37% of patients (7 of 19 patients), and many in 26% of patients (5 of 19 patients). The pneumonia was right-sided in 26% of patients (9 of 35 patients), left-sided in 17% of patients (6 of 35 patients), and bilateral in 57% of patients (20 of 35 patients). Comorbidities included the following: HIV infection (n = 15); smoking (n = 21); emphysema (n = 5); hepatitis C (n = 5); and diabetes (n = 3). The characteristics of pneumonia included the following: multilobar (n = 25); pleural effusion (n = 25); and cavitation (n = 5). The prevalence of lymphadenopathy according to comorbidities and characteristics of pneumonia ranged from 40 to 100%. None of the differences in prevalence of lymphadenopathy among the subgroups was statistically significant.
Conclusion: Lymphadenopathy is a common CT scan feature of pneumococcal pneumonia in hospitalized patients, in a variety of settings. Therefore, when a patient with pneumococcal pneumonia has lymphadenopathy seen on a CT scan, other etiologies for the lymphadenopathy need not be suspected.