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Longitudinal changes in structural abnormalities using MDCT in COPD: do the CT measurements of airway wall thickness and small pulmonary vessels change in parallel with emphysematous progression?

Authors Takayanagi S, Kawata N, Tada Y, Ikari J, Matsuura Y, Matsuoka S, Matsushita S, Yanagawa N, Kasahara Y, Tatsumi K

Received 3 September 2016

Accepted for publication 10 December 2016

Published 13 February 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 551—560


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Shin Takayanagi,1 Naoko Kawata,1 Yuji Tada,1 Jun Ikari,1 Yukiko Matsuura,1 Shin Matsuoka,2 Shoichiro Matsushita,2 Noriyuki Yanagawa,1 Yasunori Kasahara,1 Koichiro Tatsumi1

1Department of Respirology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba-shi, Chiba, 2Department of Radiology, St Marianna University School of Medicine, Sugao, Miyamae-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa, Japan

Background: Recent advances in multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) facilitate acquiring important clinical information for managing patients with COPD. MDCT can detect the loss of lung tissue associated with emphysema as a low-attenuation area (LAA) and the thickness of airways as the wall area percentage (WA%). The percentage of small pulmonary vessels <5 mm2 (% cross-sectional area [CSA] <5) has been recently recognized as a parameter for expressing pulmonary perfusion. We aimed to analyze the longitudinal changes in structural abnormalities using these CT parameters and analyze the effect of exacerbation and smoking cessation on structural changes in COPD patients.
Methods: We performed pulmonary function tests (PFTs), an MDCT, and a COPD assessment test (CAT) in 58 patients with COPD at the time of their enrollment at the hospital and 2 years later. We analyzed the change in clinical parameters including CT indices and examined the effect of exacerbations and smoking cessation on the structural changes.
Results: The CAT score and forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) did not significantly change during the follow-up period. The parameters of emphysematous changes significantly increased. On the other hand, the WA% at the distal airways significantly decreased or tended to decrease, and the %CSA <5 slightly but significantly increased over the same period, especially in ex-smokers. The parameters of emphysematous change were greater in patients with exacerbations and continued to progress even after smoking cessation. In contrast, the WA% and %CSA <5 did not change in proportion to emphysema progression.
Conclusion: The WA% at the distal bronchi and the %CSA <5 did not change in parallel with parameters of LAA over the same period. We propose that airway disease and vascular remodeling may be reversible to some extent by smoking cessation and appropriate treatment. Optimal management may have a greater effect on pulmonary vascularity and airway disease than parenchymal deconstruction in the early stage of COPD.

Keywords: emphysema, the number of low-attenuation clusters (LAN), wall area percentage (WA%), the percentage of small pulmonary vessels <5 mm2 (%CSA <5)

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