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Lung diseases

Emphysema of Upper Lobes?

01/11/2011

Question:

chest xrays have shown infiltrates and granulomatous scarring. a ct scan did not show any of these but did state emphysema of my upper lobes with the lower lobes spared. with problems I have had, pain my rt. upper back coughing with large amounts of expectorant, chills and malaise I am very concerned. could this be a misread on the part of the radiologist or can you really have emphysema of the upper lobes only? thank you in advance for any information and all that you do!!

Answer:

Emphysema caused by cigarette smoke usually affects the upper lobes of the lung more than the lower lobes. There is another kind of emphysema caused by a genetic condition resulting in low levels of the blood protein called "alpha-1-antitrypsin" that tends to cause emphysema in the lower lobes of the lung more than the upper lobes. Each patient with emphysema is a little different, however, and in some patients, the emphysema will be spread throughout the lungs.

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Response by:

James N Allen, Jr, MD James N Allen, Jr, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University