Measurement of lung density by means of quantitative CT scanning. A study of correlations with pulmonary function tests

Chest. 1992 Sep;102(3):805-11. doi: 10.1378/chest.102.3.805.


In recent years, much attention has been given to the role of CT in detecting and quantitating pulmonary emphysema. We measured CT lung density in 45 patients undergoing a diagnostic work-up and compared this with pulmonary function tests. The CT lung densities measured with the sector method and with the whole lung method were very highly correlated with each other (r = 0.96, p less than 0.001), and measurements at TLC systematically gave a lower density than those at FRC (p less than 0.001). Also, CT density measurements at TLC and even more so at FRC correlated well with pulmonary function indices of airway obstruction and of hyperinflation, but not with indices that are considered more specific for emphysema (single breath DCO, static lung compliance) We conclude that CT lung-density gives a good reflection of the degree of hyperinflation, ie, enlargement of distal airways, but is not sensitive to detect whether or not this is associated with emphysema.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / diagnosis*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / diagnostic imaging
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*