Respiratory lumenal change of the pharynx and trachea in normal subjects and COPD patients: assessment by cine-MRI

Eur Radiol. 2004 Dec;14(12):2188-97. doi: 10.1007/s00330-004-2461-7. Epub 2004 Oct 26.


The purpose of this study was to use cine-MRI during continuous respiration to measure the respiratory lumenal diameter change in the pharynx and at an upper tracheal level. Fifteen non-smokers and 23 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients with smoking history (median 50 pack-years) were included. Cine-MRI with seven frames/s was performed during continuous respiration. Minimal and maximal cross-sectional lumenal diameters within the pharynx and the upper tracheal lumen area were measured. The median diameter change in the pharynx (tracheal area) was 70% (1.4 cm(2)) in volunteers and 76% (1.7 cm(2)) in smokers (P=0.98, P=0.04). Tracheal lumenal collapse was a median of 43% in volunteers and 64% in smokers (P=0.011). No clear disease-related difference of the pharynx-lumen was found. The maximal cross-sectional area of the upper trachea lumen as well as the respiratory collapse was larger in COPD patients than in normal subjects. This information is important for the modelling of ventilation and prediction of drug deposition, which are influenced by the airway diameter.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharynx / physiology*
  • Pharynx / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / etiology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Respiration
  • Smoking / physiopathology
  • Trachea / physiology*
  • Trachea / physiopathology