Lung density is a radiologic term used to describe the appearance of the lungs in their entirety or a specific portion of lung. It shows up as an increase or a decrease in the lightness or darkness of the lung “shadow” on a routine chest X-ray or a lung CT scan. Either decreased density (as with emphysema) or increased density (in the presence of inflammation or increased lung water) in comparison with the expected density of normal lungs, can be indicative of diseased lung.
The density alone is not characteristic of a specific disease but, when used with other features of the radiologic lung image, can be suggestive of a disease or a category of lung disease. Interpretation of lung density requires knowledge of lung anatomy and clinical features of a person’s lung disease.
The term lung density is also used to describe a specific anatomic portion of a person’s lungs that differs from normal lung density; for example increased density being suggestive of a mass and decreased density indicating a patch of emphysema or an air filled cyst.
Basically, this is a technical medical term used to describe the appearance of lungs in total or a given area of one or both lungs. Thus one should be careful to not come to an erroneous conclusion based on reading, “increased or decreased lung density” on an X-ray report. The appropriate response is to seek information from one’s physician regarding the implications of the finding.
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