Purpose: To assess the sensitivity of hyperpolarized helium 3 ((3)He) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging for the detection of peripheral airway obstruction in younger cystic fibrosis (CF) patients showing normal spirometric results (mean forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV(1)], 112% +/- 14.5 [standard deviation]) and to observe the immediate effects of a single chest physical therapy (CPT) session, thereby comparing two image quantification techniques.
Materials and methods: Ten pediatric CF patients (age range, 8-16 years) with normal spirometric results were included in this study after approval from the local research ethics committee. Spirometry followed by proton and hyperpolarized (3)He three-dimensional lung imaging were performed with a 1.5-T MR unit before and after 20 minutes of CPT. The number of ventilation defects per image (VDI) and the ventilated lung fraction (VF), defined as the ratio of ventilated lung volume divided by total lung volume, were quantified.
Results: Ventilation defects were found in all patients (mean VDI, 5.1 +/- 1.9; mean global VF, 78.5% +/- 12.3; and mean peripheral VF, 75.5% +/- 17.1) despite normal spirometric results. After CPT, disparate changes in the distribution of ventilation defects were observed but the average VDI and VF did not change significantly (mean VDI, 5.1 +/- 1.1; mean global VF, 83.5% +/- 12.2; and mean peripheral VF, 80.3% +/- 12.2). There was no correlation between FEV(1) and VDI (rho = -0.041, P = .863) or global VF (rho = -0.196, P = .408) values but peripheral VF and VDI were correlated (rho = -0.563, P = .011).
Conclusion: Although spirometric results indicate normal lung function, the mean VDI in patients (5.1) found in this study is well above the VDI in healthy subjects (1.6) reported in the literature. A single CPT session induces disparate changes in the distribution and extent of ventilation defects.