Encyclopedia of Molecular Mechanisms of Disease

2009 Edition
| Editors: Florian Lang

Bullous Emphysema

  • Marco Mura
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-29676-8_260


Bullous lung disease; Lung bullae

Definition and Characteristics

Bullous emphysema (BE) is defined as a form of emphysema characterized by the presence of bullae, which are well-delimited air spaces with walls not more than 1-mm thick. In most cases, BE is a part of widespread diffuse (nonbullous) emphysema (DE).


Lung bullae occur in a variety of disorders, most often in association with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), especially DE. However, bullae may occur in lungs that are otherwise normal [1]. Consequently, patients with bullous lung disease can be subdivided into those with COPD-associated BE and those without airways obstruction (Primitive bullous disease, PBD). No prevalence studies on this specific form of emphysema are available.

Similar to DE, the main risk factors for the development of BE are tobacco smoke and α1-antitrypsin deficiency. In addition, marijuana and cocaine smoke have been associated with giant BE in young patients with no...

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Mura
    • 1
  1. 1.Malattie RespiratoriePoliclinico Tor VergataRomeItaly