Quantitative computed tomography of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Acad Radiol. 2005 Nov;12(11):1457-63. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2005.08.013.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is described as airflow limitation that is not fully reversible. Quantitative assessment of structural changes within the lung that are responsible for this airflow limitation has relied on the examination of tissue obtained from surgical or postmortem specimens. However, in the past two decades, researchers have developed novel and robust tools to measure the structure of the lung parenchyma and airway wall by using computed tomographic (CT) scans, which do not require the removal of lung tissue. These techniques are extremely important because they allow longitudinal studies of the pathogenesis of COPD and the assessment of therapeutic interventions. Another application of this approach is that it potentially allows phenotyping of individuals who predominately have emphysema or small-airway disease, which may be important for the evaluation of pathogenesis and prescription of treatment options. This review describes some of these CT techniques for quantitative assessment of lung structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / surgery
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*