Correlation of CT findings with clinical evaluations in 261 patients with symptomatic bronchiectasis

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1999 Jul;173(1):53-8. doi: 10.2214/ajr.173.1.10397099.


Objective: In a multicenter study, we evaluated the relationships between the extent and severity of bronchiectasis on CT and clinical symptoms, spirometric abnormality, and sputum characteristics.

Subjects and methods: The study population included 261 patients with symptomatic, physiologically significant bronchiectasis, who were enrolled in another study evaluating the clinical efficacy of deoxyribonudease in treatment of bronchiectasis. Patients with cystic fibrosis, allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, and fungal or mycobacterial infection were excluded. In addition to high-resolution CT scanning, all patients underwent clinical evaluation, spirometry, and sputum culture. CT features scored by consensus of two observers included the extent of bronchiectasis, type of bronchiectasis (cylindric, varicose, or cystic), extent of mucoid impaction, and degree of bronchial wall thickening.

Results: Scores for the severity and extent of bronchiectasis correlated with the forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1) (r = -.362, p < .0001) and with the forced vital capacity (FVC) (r = -.362, p < .0001). Scores for bronchial wall thickening correlated with the FEV1 (r = -.367, p < .0001) and FVC (r = -.239, p < .001). Patients with cystic bronchiectasis were significantly more likely to grow Pseudomonas from their sputa and to have purulent sputa than were patients with cylindric or varicose bronchiectasis. Patients with cystic bronchiectasis had significantly lower FEV1 and FVC values than did patients with cylindric or varicose bronchiectasis.

Conclusion: In this patient population, we found weak but significant correlations between the degree of morphologic abnormality on CT and the extent of physiologic impairment. Cystic bronchiectasis was associated with sputum purulence and with the growth of Pseudomonas. CT classification of the type of bronchiectasis may be useful as an index of severity of disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bronchi / pathology
  • Bronchiectasis / diagnosis
  • Bronchiectasis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bronchiectasis / etiology
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spirometry
  • Sputum / microbiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Vital Capacity