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March 2016 Pulmonary Case of the Month

Ramachandra R. Sista, MD

Maxwell L. Smith, MD

 Lewis J. Wesselius, MD


Departments of Pulmonary Medicine and Pathology

Mayo Clinic Arizona

Scottsdale, AZ


Pulmonary Case of the Month CME Information

Members of the Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and California Thoracic Societies and the Mayo Clinic are able to receive 0.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ for each case they complete. 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: 0.25 hours

Lead Author(s): Ramachandra R. Sista, 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 this activity I will be better able to:

  1. Correctly interpret and identify clinical practices supported by the highest quality available evidence.
  2. Will be better able to establsh the optimal evaluation leading to a correct diagnosis for patients with pulmonary, critical care and sleep disorders.
  3. Will improve the translation of the most current clinical information into the delivery of high quality care for patients.
  4. Will integrate new treatment options in discussing available treatment alternatives 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 Banner University Medical Center Tucson

Current Approval Period: January 1, 2015-December 31, 2016

Financial Support Received: None


History of Present Illness

A 74-year-old man was referred for a recently identified right pleural effusion and dyspnea on exertion.  

Past Medical History, Family History and Social History

He has a history of anemia, hypertension, and prostate cancer with a prostatectomy in 2015. He is a life-long nonsmoker and has no occupational exposures. Family history is noncontributory.

Physical Examination

He had diminished breath sounds at the right lung base and a palpable spleen. Otherwise the physical examination was unremarkable.


CBC: hemoglobin  8.5 g/dL, white blood count  7.7 X 109 cells/L,  platelets 357 X 109 cells/L.


A chest X-ray showed a right pleural effusion. Representative images from the CT scan are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Representative images from the CT scan.

Which of the following is the most likely diagnosis? (Click on the correct answer to proceed to the second of five panels)

  1. Empyema
  2. Lung cancer
  3. Tuberculosis
  4. Usual interstitial pneumonia
  5. Valley fever (coccidioidomycosis)

Cite as: Sista RR, Smith ML, Wesselius LJ. March 2016 pulmonary case of the month. Southwest J Pulm Crit Care. 2016;12(3):74-80. doi: PDF

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