Objectives: To compare the distribution of lung volume at total lung capacity (TLC) among adult men and women known to have normal lung function or chronic obstructive disease or restrictive lung disease (RLD).
Design: Five-year retrospective study.
Setting: Review of available clinical pulmonary function testing (PFT) reports and chest radiographs.
Patients: Sixty-four patients presenting with normal PFT and chest radiograph findings (normal subjects), 26 patients with severe COPD and increased TLC (COPD group), 29 patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) and increased TLC (CF group), and 19 patients with RLD with a clinical diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis and a reduced TLC (RLD group).
Measurements: Average posteroanterior rib cage diameter (PAave), average lateral rib cage diameter (LAave), and average vertical height of the diaphragm (HDIave) were measured using radiography. Normal prediction equations were generated based on stature, body mass index (BMI), age, and sex as independent variables and then used in between-group comparisons.
Results: PAave correlated positively with BMI and age but not with height, whereas LAave correlated positively with BMI and height but not with age. HDIave correlated positively with height and age but negatively with BMI. PAave and LAave were smaller and HDIave was greater in women than men having the same stature. In the COPD group and in male CF group patients, BMI was low and only HDIave was greater than in sex-, age-, and height-matched normal subjects, but in female CF group patients, only the rib cage diameters were greater than normal. In the RLD group, PAave and HDIave were smaller than predicted and inversely related to each other, but LAave was normal.
Conclusion: Variations in maximum lung volume caused by gender, growth, or by lung diseases are nonisotropic and entail substantial changes in chest wall shape.