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August 2018 Imaging Case of the Month: Dyspnea in a 55-Year-Old Smoker

Michael B. Gotway, MD

Department of Radiology

Mayo Clinic Arizona

Scottsdale, AZ USA


Imaging Case of the Month CME Information  

Completion of an evaluation form is required to receive credit and a link is provided on the last panel of the activity.

0.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™

Estimated time to complete this activity: 0.75 hours

Lead Author(s): Michael B. Gotway, MD. All Faculty, CME Planning Committee Members, and the CME Office Reviewers have disclosed that they do not have any relevant financial relationships with commercial interests that would constitute a conflict of interest concerning this CME activity. 

Learning Objectives: As a result of completing this activity, participants will be better able to:

  1. Interpret and identify clinical practices supported by the highest quality available evidence.
  2. Establish the optimal evaluation leading to a correct diagnosis for patients with pulmonary, critical care and sleep disorders.
  3. Translate the most current clinical information into the delivery of high quality care for patients.
  4. Integrate new treatment options for patients with pulmonary, critical care and sleep related disorders.

Learning Format: Case-based, interactive online course, including mandatory assessment questions (number of questions varies by case). Please also read the Technical Requirements.

CME Sponsor: University of Arizona College of Medicine at the Arizona Health Sciences Center.

Current Approval Period: January 1, 2017-December 31, 2018


Clinical History: A 55–year old woman presented to the emergency room with complaints of shortness of breath and lower extremity swelling. The patient noted her shortness of breath had been worsening over the previous 6 months, especially in the last 3 months. The patient denies cough, fever, chills, and night sweats. The patient admits to some fatigue but has not lost weight recently.

The patient is a current smoker, averaging about 1 pack-per-day for the previous 40 years. Her allergies include penicillin and sulfa drugs, and her prior medical history was remarkable only for hypothyroidism and gastroesophageal reflux. Her only previous surgery was for an ectopic pregnancy. The patient’s mediation list included use of opiates for pain related to a herniated disc in the lower cervical spine following an automobile accident two years earlier.

Her physical examination was unremarkable aside from obesity and mild symmetric lower extremity edema. Her vital signs were within normal limits.

Frontal and lateral chest radiography (Figure 1) was performed.

Figure 1. Frontal (A) and lateral (B) chest radiography.

Which of the following represents the most accurate assessment of the chest radiographic findings? (Click on the correct answer to be directed to the second of ten pages)

  1. Chest radiography shows a mediastinal mass
  2. Chest radiography shows cavitary pulmonary lesions
  3. Chest radiography shows miliary nodules
  4. Chest radiography shows an interstitial abnormality consisting of reticular and nodular opacities
  5. Chest radiography shows basilar fibrotic opacities

Cite as: Gotway MB. August 2018 imaging case of the month: Dyspnea in a 55-year-old smoker. Southwest J Pulm Crit Care. 2018;17(2):59-69. doi: PDF

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