Evaluation of the solitary pulmonary nodule

George E. Kikano, Andre Fabien, Robert Schilz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


A solitary pulmonary nodule is a common radiologic finding that is often discovered incidentally and may require significant workup to establish a definitive diagnosis. A solitary pulmonary nodule is a well-circumscribed round lesion measuring up to 3 cm in diameter and surrounded by aerated lung. Once a nodule is discovered, clinical and radiologic features and quantitative models can be used to determine the likelihood of malignancy. Evaluation is guided by nodule size and assessment of probability of malignancy. Surgical resection or nonsurgical biopsy should be performed in patients with solid or subsolid solitary pulmonary nodules that show clear growth on serial imaging. Solid solitary pulmonary nodules that have been stable for at least two years typically do not need further evaluation. The workup for patients with solid solitary pulmonary nodules measuring 8 mm or greater in diameter, nodules measuring less than 8 mm in diameter, and subsolid nodules should be guided by the probability of malignancy, imaging results, and the risks and benefits of different management strategies. Management should be individualized according to patient values and preferences. Medicare now covers lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography for high-risk patients 55 to 77 years of age at institutions that can provide a comprehensive approach to the management of solitary pulmonary nodules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1084-1091
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Family Physician
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2015


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