Chronic bronchitis differential diagnosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Seyedmahdi Pahlavani, M.D. [2]


Chronic bronchitis must be differentiated from congestive heart failure, chronic asthma, bronchiectasis, and bronchiolitis obliterans.

Differential Diagnosis

Disease Findings
Congestive heart failure Features with orthopnea, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, fine crackles on auscultation, and chest x ray findings of cardiac enlargement and pulmonary congestion (Kerley B lines, and pleural effusion)
Bronchiectasis Presents copious purulent sputum, coarse crackles, clubbing and CT findings suggestive of bronchiectasis[1]
Asthma Presents with cough, dyspnea and wheezing and typically is a chronic condition which has started from childhood[1]
Bronchiolitis obliterans Has history of collagen vascular disease, usually young patient without a history of smoking and CT scan shows finding of mosaic attenuation and no evidence of emphysema
Pneumonia Presents with acute fever, cough and shortness of breath, although pulmonary infiltrate on chest X-ray is an imaging finding[2].


  1. 1.0 1.1 Busse WW (2011). "Asthma diagnosis and treatment: filling in the information gaps". J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 128 (4): 740–50. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2011.08.014. PMID 21875745.
  2. Prina E, Ranzani OT, Torres A (2015). "Community-acquired pneumonia". Lancet. 386 (9998): 1097–108. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60733-4. PMID 26277247.

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