Improved correlation between CT emphysema quantification and pulmonary function test by density correction of volumetric CT data based on air and aortic density

Eur J Radiol. 2014 Jan;83(1):57-63. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2012.02.021. Epub 2012 May 20.


Objectives: To determine the improvement of emphysema quantification with density correction and to determine the optimal site to use for air density correction on volumetric computed tomography (CT).

Methods: Seventy-eight CT scans of COPD patients (GOLD II-IV, smoking history 39.2±25.3 pack-years) were obtained from several single-vendor 16-MDCT scanners. After density measurement of aorta, tracheal- and external air, volumetric CT density correction was conducted (two reference values: air, -1,000 HU/blood, +50 HU). Using in-house software, emphysema index (EI) and mean lung density (MLD) were calculated. Differences in air densities, MLD and EI prior to and after density correction were evaluated (paired t-test). Correlation between those parameters and FEV1 and FEV1/FVC were compared (age- and sex adjusted partial correlation analysis).

Results: Measured densities (HU) of tracheal- and external air differed significantly (-990 ± 14, -1016 ± 9, P<0.001). MLD and EI on original CT data, after density correction using tracheal- and external air also differed significantly (MLD: -874.9 ± 27.6 vs. -882.3 ± 24.9 vs. -860.5 ± 26.6; EI: 16.8 ± 13.4 vs. 21.1 ± 14.5 vs. 9.7 ± 10.5, respectively, P<0.001). The correlation coefficients between CT quantification indices and FEV1, and FEV1/FVC increased after density correction. The tracheal air correction showed better results than the external air correction.

Conclusion: Density correction of volumetric CT data can improve correlations of emphysema quantification and PFT.

Keywords: CT; Computed tomography scanner; Computer software; Densitometry; EI; Emphysema; FEV(1); FVC; HU; Hounsfield unit; MDCT; MLD; PFT; Quantitative evaluation; ROI; computed tomography; emphysema index; forced expiratory volume in 1 second; forced vital capacity; mean lung density; multi-detector computed tomography; pulmonary function test; region of interest.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / methods
  • Air / analysis*
  • Algorithms
  • Aortography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / diagnosis*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / etiology
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*