In Vivo Computed Tomography as a Research Tool to Investigate Asthma and COPD: Where Do We Stand?

J Allergy (Cairo). 2012:2012:972479. doi: 10.1155/2012/972479. Epub 2012 Jan 11.


Computed tomography (CT) is a clinical tool widely used to assess and followup asthma and chonic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in humans. Strong efforts have been made the last decade to improve this technique as a quantitative research tool. Using semiautomatic softwares, quantification of airway wall thickness, lumen area, and bronchial wall density are available from large to intermediate conductive airways. Skeletonization of the bronchial tree can be built to assess its three-dimensional geometry. Lung parenchyma density can be analysed as a surrogate of small airway disease and emphysema. Since resident cells involve airway wall and lung parenchyma abnormalities, CT provides an accurate and reliable research tool to assess their role in vivo. This litterature review highlights the most recent advances made to assess asthma and COPD with CT, and also their drawbacks and the place of CT in clarifying the complex physiopathology of both diseases.