Bronchial measurements in patients with asthma: comparison of quantitative thin-section CT findings with those in healthy subjects and correlation with pathologic findings

Radiology. 2009 Dec;253(3):844-53. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2533090303. Epub 2009 Sep 29.


Purpose: To analyze and compare computed tomographic (CT) bronchial measurements in patients with asthma and healthy subjects and to correlate bronchial morphometric parameters with functional data and immunohistologic markers of airway remodeling and inflammation.

Materials and methods: This retrospective study was approved by the institutional review board; patient informed consent was not required. CT and pulmonary function tests were performed in 27 patients separated into two groups: 15 patients with asthma (three men; mean age, 43.1 years +/- 5.3 [standard error of mean]) and 12 healthy subjects (10 men; mean age, 45.0 years +/- 5.4). Endobronchial biopsies were performed in 11 subjects. Bronchial cross-sectional wall area (WA) and lumen area (LA) were measured by using validated software, and wall thickness (WT), total area (TA), WA/LA ratio, and WA/TA ratio were computed. Slope and maximal local slope of each parameter along bronchial generations were calculated.

Results: Patients with asthma demonstrated significantly lower LA, TA, and WA and higher WA/LA and WA/TA ratios than healthy subjects downward from the fourth bronchial generation. Correlations existed between slope and maximal local slope of WA/LA and/or WA/TA ratios and functional data reflecting bronchial obstruction (r = 0.46-0.58, P = .001-.025), subepithelial membrane thickness (r = 0.67-0.69, P = .019-.023), smooth muscle layer area (r = 0.75, P = .007), subepithelial layer area (r = 0.81, P = .002), and infiltration of the bronchial wall by inflammatory cells (r = 0.67-0.86, P = .049-.003).

Conclusion: Axial reconstructions with orthogonal measurements along the airways enabled by three-dimensional segmentation methods are able to demonstrate significant changes in bronchial morphometry, predicting airflow limitation in asthma, and may have a role in the noninvasive measurement of airway remodeling.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Asthma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Asthma / pathology
  • Biopsy
  • Bronchi / pathology*
  • Bronchography / methods*
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*