Atypical Pneumonia: Definition, Causes, and Imaging Features

Link to article at PubMed

Radiographics. 2021 Apr 9:200131. doi: 10.1148/rg.2021200131. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

Pneumonia is among the most common causes of death worldwide. The epidemiologic and clinical heterogeneity of pneumonia results in challenges in diagnosis and treatment. There is inconsistency in the definition of the group of microorganisms that cause "atypical pneumonia." Nevertheless, the use of this term in the medical and radiologic literature is common. Among the causes of community-acquired pneumonia, atypical bacteria are responsible for approximately 15% of cases. Zoonotic and nonzoonotic bacteria, as well as viruses, have been considered among the causes of atypical pneumonia in a patient who is immunocompetent and have been associated with major community outbreaks of respiratory infection, with relevant implications in public health policies. Considering the difficulty of isolating atypical microorganisms and the significant overlap in clinical manifestations, a targeted empirical therapy is not possible. Imaging plays an important role in the diagnosis and management of atypical pneumonia, as in many cases its findings may first suggest the possibility of an atypical infection. Clarifying and unifying the definition of atypical pneumonia among the medical community, including radiologists, are of extreme importance. The prompt diagnosis and prevention of community spread of some atypical microorganisms can have a relevant impact on local, regional, and global health policies. ©RSNA, 2021.

PMID:33835878 | DOI:10.1148/rg.2021200131

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