Purpose: The purpose of this work was to determine whether cross-sectional area and coronal and sagittal diameter measurements of the trachea between inspiration and end-expiration on CT are significantly different between patients with acquired tracheomalacia and those without this condition.
Method: Inspiratory and end-expiratory CT scans of the trachea of 23 normal patients and 10 patients with acquired tracheomalacia were analyzed. Percent changes in cross-sectional area, coronal, and sagittal diameters were calculated.
Results: For patients with tracheomalacia, mean percent changes in the upper and middle trachea between inspiration and expiration were 49 and 44%; mean changes in the coronal and sagittal diameters in the upper and middle tracheal were 4 and 10% and 39 and 54%, respectively. Control group mean percent changes in the upper and middle tracheal area were 12 and 14%, respectively, and mean changes in the coronal and sagittal diameters in the upper and middle trachea were 4 and 4% and 11 and 13%, respectively. Significant differences were calculated for changes in cross-sectional area and sagittal diameter between groups (p < 10-5). Based on receiver operator curve analysis, a > 18% change in the upper trachea and 28% change in the midtrachea between inspiration and expiration were observed; the probability of tracheomalacia was 89-100%. The probability of tracheomalacia was > 89%, especially if the change in sagittal diameter was > 28%.
Conclusion: By measuring changes in tracheal cross-sectional area and sagittal diameters between inspiratory and end-expiratory CT, a significant difference can be identified between normal patients and those with acquired tracheomalacia.