Computed tomography scans in severe asthma: utility and clinical implications

Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2012 Jan;18(1):42-7. doi: 10.1097/MCP.0b013e32834db255.


Purpose of review: Asthma is a global burden, affecting 5% of the general adult population, of whom approximately 5-10% suffer from severe asthma. Severe asthma is a complex heterogeneous disease entity, with high morbidity and mortality. Increasingly novel techniques in computed tomography (CT) are being used to understand the pathophysiology of severe asthma. The utility and clinical implications of these CT techniques are the focus of this review.

Recent findings: Novel qualitative and quantitative CT imaging techniques have enabled us to study the large airway architecture in detail, assess the small airway structure, and perform functional analysis of regional ventilation.

Summary: Despite advances in CT imaging techniques, there is an urgent need for both proof-of-concept studies and large cross-sectional and longitudinal clinical trials in severe asthma to validate and clinically correlate imaging derived measures. This will extend our current understanding of the pathophysiology of severe asthma, and unravel the structure-function relationship, with the potential to discover novel severe asthma phenotypes and predict mortality, morbidity, and response to existing and novel pharmacological and nonpharmacological therapies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Airway Remodeling
  • Asthma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Asthma / pathology
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed* / methods