The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

Original Contributions

August 2002 / Volume 47 / Number 8 / Page 898

That Darn Scapula: A Common Pitfall in Interpreting the Chest Radiograph

Stanley G Cheng MD and Eric J Stern MD

Introduction
Scapula Anatomy
Lung Parenchymal Abnormality Mimics
Pleural Abnormality Mimics
Bone Pathology Mimics
Other Pitfalls
Summary
For the inexperienced interpreter of chest radiographs, the normal scapula can mimic some very common and potentially serious abnormalities. Failure to recognize this normal bony structure can lead to needless diagnostic work up and treatment. The potentially mimicked abnormalities fall into 3 major categories: lung parenchymal abnormalities, pleural abnormalities, and bone abnormalities. This report discusses scapula anatomy as it pertains to chest radiographic anatomy, and the reasons for misinterpretations, and shows examples of the scapula mimicking pathologic processes.
Key words: scapula, radiograph, radiography, x-ray, mimic, misdiagnosis.
[Respir Care 2002;47(8):910–914]

Introduction

The scapula is an essential part of the shoulder girdle, being an attachment for the rotator cuff muscles and part of the shoulder joint itself. For the inexperienced reader of chest radiographs, the normal scapula can mimic some very common and potentially serious abnormalities. Failure to recognize this normal bony structure can lead to needless diagnostic work up and treatment. The potentially mimicked abnormalities include lung parenchymal abnormalities, pleural abnormalities, and bone abnormalities. This pictorial essay discusses scapular anatomy, especially as it pertains to chest radiographic anatomy and the reasons for misinterpretations, and shows examples of the scapula mimicking pathologic processes.

The entire text of this article is available in the printed version of the August 2002 RESPIRATORY CARE.

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