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Is intrathoracic tracheal collapsibility correlated to clinical phenotypes and sex in patients with COPD?

Authors Camiciottoli G, Diciotti S, Bigazzi F, Lombardo S, Bartolucci M, Paoletti M, Mascalchi M, Pistolesi M

Received 8 January 2015

Accepted for publication 25 February 2015

Published 28 April 2015 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 843—852


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Gianna Camiciottoli,1 Stefano Diciotti,2 Francesca Bigazzi,1 Simone Lombardo,3 Maurizio Bartolucci,4 Matteo Paoletti,1 Mario Mascalchi,3 Massimo Pistolesi1

1Section of Respiratory Medicine, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Florence, Florence, Italy; 2Department of Electrical, Electronic, and Information Engineering “Guglielmo Marconi,” University of Bologna, Cesena, Italy; 3Radiodiagnostic Section, Department of Clinical and Experimental Biomedical Sciences, University of Florence, Florence, Italy; 4Department of Diagnostic Imaging, Careggi University Hospital, Florence, Italy

Abstract: A substantial proportion of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) develops various degree of intrathoracic tracheal collapsibility. We studied whether the magnitude of intrathoracic tracheal collapsibility could be different across clinical phenotypes and sex in COPD. Intrathoracic tracheal collapsibility measured at paired inspiratory–expiratory low dose computed tomography (CT) and its correlation with clinical, functional, and CT-densitometric data were investigated in 69 patients with COPD according to their predominant conductive airway or emphysema phenotypes and according to sex. Intrathoracic tracheal collapsibility was higher in patients with predominant conductive airway disease (n=28) and in females (n=27). Women with a predominant conductive airway phenotype (n=10) showed a significantly greater degree of collapsibility than women with predominant emphysema (28.9%±4% versus 11.6%±2%; P<0.001). Intrathoracic tracheal collapsibility was directly correlated with inspiratory–expiratory volume variation at CT and with forced expiratory volume (1 second), and inversely correlated with reduced CT lung density and functional residual capacity. Intrathoracic tracheal collapsibility was not correlated with cough and wheezing; however, intrathoracic tracheal collapsibility and clinical phenotypes of COPD are closely correlated. In patients with a predominant emphysematous phenotype, a reduced collapsibility may reflect the mechanical properties of the stiff hyperinflated emphysematous lung. The high collapsibility in patients with predominant airway disease, mild airway obstruction, and in women with this phenotype may reflect chronic airway inflammation. The lack of relationship with such symptoms as wheezing, cough, and dyspnea could indicate that intrathoracic tracheal collapsibility itself should be considered neither an abnormal feature of COPD nor a relevant clinical finding.

Keywords: airway, computed tomography, lung density, pulmonary function, lung volumes

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