Aspiration bronchiolitis

Aspiration bronchiolitis, or diffuse aspiration bronchiolitis, is a condition characterized by a chronic inflammation of bronchioles caused by recurrent aspiration of foreign particles.

The onset of aspiration bronchiolitis can be more insidious than aspiration pneumonia, and in half of the patients, episodes of aspiration can be unrecognised 3. Patients may have a chronic cough.

It is characterized by a chronic inflammatory reaction to repeatedly aspirated foreign particles in the bronchioles. 

Patients with esophageal conditions such as achalasia, Zenker diverticulum, or esophageal carcinoma are at risk for aspiration bronchiolitis.

  • neurologic disorders: ~ 50% 3
  • dementia: ~50 3

Aspiration bronchiolitis may be seen as unilateral or bilateral foci of 1,6:

Consolidation is not a major radiological finding.

A chronic cough in aspiration bronchiolitis usually does not respond to β-adrenergic bronchodilators or to inhaled steroids. The swallowing rehabilitation and temporally intravenous alimentation are considered the most effective way to reduce the symptoms 7.

If features are diffuse consider:

As a broader differential on CT, consider other forms of bronchiolitis.

Share article

Article information

rID: 24311
System: Chest
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Diffuse aspiration bronchiolitis
  • Diffuse aspiration bronchiolitis (DAB)

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Updating… Please wait.

 Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.