Background: Patients with common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) suffer from respiratory infections leading over time to permanent lung damage. Increased radiosensitivity has been described, and clinicians should consider a risk-benefit assessment when ordering a CT scan, in that the exact level of "safe" radiation exposure is unknown.
Methods: Twenty-one patients with CVID were evaluated with chest CT scan, MRI, and pulmonary function tests on the same day. MRI protocol included a T2-weighted rotating blade-like k-space covering sequence (time repetition, 2,000; echo train = 27; field of view, 400 mm; flip angle, 150; slice thickness, 5 mm) on axial and coronal planes. The bronchial and parenchymal abnormalities were compared with those identified by CT scan applying a modified Bhalla scoring system to assess bronchiectasis, bronchial wall thickening, number of bronchial generations involved, mucous plugging, consolidations, emphysema, bullae, and nodules.
Results: CT scan and MRI findings were comparable for moderate to severe degrees of bronchial and parenchymal alterations. A low concordance was found between MRI and CT scan for lower scores of bronchial abnormalities. CT scan allowed a better identification of peripheral airways abnormalities.
Conclusions: Lung alterations in patients with higher radiation sensitivity, such as patients with CVID, might be evaluated by MRI, a radiation-free technique alternative to CT scan.