A quantification of the lung surface area in emphysema using computed tomography

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1999 Mar;159(3):851-6. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.159.3.9805067.


Quantitative analysis of computed tomography (CT) has been combined with a stereologically based histologic analysis of lung structure to assess regional lung inflation and the structural features of the lung parenchyma. In this study, CT measurements of lung inflation were compared with histologic estimates of surface area in order to develop prediction equations that allow lung surface to volume ratio and surface area to be predicted from an analysis of the CT scan. The results show that mild emphysema is associated with an increase in lung volume and a reduction in surface to volume ratio, whereas surface area and tissue weight were only decreased in severe disease. The CT predicted surface to volume ratio correlated with histology, and both predicted and measured surface areas correlated with the diffusing capacity. We conclude that this CT analysis can be used to monitor the progression of emphysematous lung destruction in individual patients, and to assess the impact of both surgical and medical treatments for emphysema.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Volume Measurements
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / pathology
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / physiopathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*