A “galactic” chest x-ray

Cristiano Carbonelli, Angela de Matthaeis, Antonio Mirijello, Concetta Di Micco, Evaristo Maiello, Salvatore De Cosmo, Paolo Graziano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clinical manifestations accompanying respiratory failure with insidious and rapidly pro-gressive onset are often non-specific. Symptoms such as a cough, dyspnea, and fever are common to a large number of inflammatory, infectious, or neoplastic diseases. During the COVID-19 pandemic it is essential to limit the use of hospital services and inappropriate diagnostic techniques. A particular radiological pattern can orient the clinical and laboratory scenario and guide the diagnostic workup. A 58-year-old woman was admitted to our COVID-19 unit for suspected coronavirus infection. She was complaining of worsening dyspnea, tachycardia, and low grade fever. A chest X-ray showed diffuse, alveolar, and interstitial lung involvement with micronodules tending to coalescence. This radiographic pattern known as “galaxy sign”, consistent with diffuse, coalescing nodular miliary pulmonary involvement, simulating a non-specific alveolar opacification of the lungs is typical of a few pneumological differential diagnoses, represented by sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, pneumoco-niosis, and metastatic lesions, and virtually excludes an interstitial viral pneumonitis. The use of endoscopic techniques can, in such cases, confirm the clinical suspicion for initiating appropriate targeted therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number899
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Interventional pulmonology
  • Lung cancer
  • Metastasis
  • Miliary pulmonary involvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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