Quantitative computed tomography in COPD: possibilities and limitations

Lung. 2012 Apr;190(2):133-45. doi: 10.1007/s00408-011-9353-9. Epub 2011 Dec 17.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a heterogeneous disease that is characterized by chronic airflow limitation. Unraveling of this heterogeneity is challenging but important, because it might enable more accurate diagnosis and treatment. Because spirometry cannot distinguish between the different contributing pathways of airflow limitation, and visual scoring is time-consuming and prone to observer variability, other techniques are sought to start this phenotyping process. Quantitative computed tomography (CT) is a promising technique, because current CT technology is able to quantify emphysema, air trapping, and large airway wall dimensions. This review focuses on CT quantification techniques of COPD disease components and their current status and role in phenotyping COPD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Airway Remodeling
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / physiopathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*