Purpose: To evaluate the frequency and morphologic characteristics of air trapping in volunteers with various smoking habits.
Materials and methods: Two hundred fifty volunteers (133 women, 117 men; mean age, 39 years), including 144 smokers, 47 ex-smokers, and 59 nonsmokers, prospectively underwent inspiratory and expiratory high-spatial-resolution computed tomography (CT) and pulmonary function tests (PFTs). The frequency and characteristics of air trapping were evaluated according to the population's smoking habits and PFT results.
Results: The overall frequency of air trapping was 62% (155 of 250 subjects). Lobular air trapping was depicted in 117 (47%) of 250 subjects, without significant differences among smokers (n = 91), ex-smokers (n = 33), and nonsmokers (n = 31) (P =.118). Segmental and lobar air trapping (38 [15%] of 250) were more frequent among smokers (24 [26%] of 91) and ex-smokers (nine [27%] of 33) (P <.001). No relationship was found between air trapping and functional indexes of small-airway disease when the CT pattern of air trapping was considered. The strongest relationship between CT abnormalities and functional alterations at the small-airways level was between inspiratory CT features of bronchiolitis: ground-glass opacity, ill-defined micronodules, bronchiolectasis, and air flow at low lung volumes.
Conclusion: Whereas a significant relationship was observed between segmental and lobar air trapping and cigarette consumption, lobular air trapping was not found to reflect functional impairment at the small-airways level.