Indeterminate Lung Nodules

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Lung nodules are small, roundish growths in the lung. The majority of the time these are benign (non-cancer) and are caused by scarring, inflammation or infection. When there is only one nodule in the lung, it is commonly called a solitary pulmonary nodule.

Unfortunately, some of these nodules may be early lung cancers or cancers that have spread to the lungs from another cancer in the body. These nodules are usually small, less than 1 cm, and are being found more frequently with the increased use of chest computed tomography (CT scan).


The only way to make a definitive diagnosis of an indeterminate lung nodule is to obtain a tissue sample. If you have had previous chest X-rays or CT scans, the nodule can be compared over time. If it has not changed in 2 years, it usually does not need to be biopsied (sampled).

If the nodule is new, it can be followed with serial CT scans, but often a biopsy of the nodule is necessary to rule out a cancer. This can be done by several different methods and depends on the location of the nodule and the chance that it is a lung cancer

Lung Nodule Treatment

Radiotracer-Guided Localization

The radiotracer process is used to help surgeons precisely locate and remove lung nodules. UVA pioneered this novel approach and has the largest experience of any hospital in the world.


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.