Kerley Lines

Other Known Aliasesnone

Definitionlines seen on chest radiography due to interstitial edema

Clinical Significance Kerley lines are thin pulmonary opacities caused by fluid or cellular infiltration into the interstitial of the lungs. There are three distinct types that are seen:

  • Kerley A lines – linear opacities extending from the periphery to the hilum caused by distention of anastomotic channels between peripheral and central lymphatics
  • Kerley B lines – short horizontal lines situated perpendicularly to the pleural surface at the lung base and represent edema of the interlobar septa
  • Kerley C lines – reticular opacities at the lung base representing Kerley B lines en face
White Arrows (A lines); White Arrowheads (B lines); Black Arrowheads (C lines)

HistoryNamed after Sir Peter James Kerley (1900-1979), who was an Irish radiologist and received his medical doctorate from Cambridge University in 1932. He went on to study in Vienna, which was the center of the new and blossoming specialty of heart and lung radiography. He assisted to editing “A Textbook of X-ray Diagnosis” in 1939, which was a major radiology textbook at the time, and later became director of radiology at Westminster Hospital in 1939. He first described his eponymonic findings in an article entitled “Radiology in heart disease” in 1933, and further elaborated on them in the second volume of his textbooks in 1951. During this year, he was also a key figure in the diagnosing of King George VI’s lung cancer due to his review of the King’s radiographs. He received several Royal awards for mass radiological screening for tuberculosis and his diagnosis of King George VI cancer, leading up to his Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order by Queen Elizabeth in 1972.


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