Objective: This study evaluates the relationships between quantitative CT (QCT) and spirometric measurements of disease severity in cigarette smokers with and without chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Materials and methods: Inspiratory and expiratory CT scans of 4062 subjects in the Genetic Epidemiology of COPD (COPDGene) Study were evaluated. Measures examined included emphysema, defined as the percentage of low-attenuation areas≤-950 HU on inspiratory CT, which we refer to as "LAA-950I"; air trapping, defined as the percentage of low-attenuation areas≤-856 HU on expiratory CT, which we refer to as "LAA-856E"; and the inner diameter, inner and outer areas, wall area, airway wall thickness, and square root of the wall area of a hypothetical airway of 10-mm internal perimeter of segmental and subsegmental airways. Correlations were determined between spirometry and several QCT measures using statistics software (SAS, version 9.2).
Results: QCT measurements of low-attenuation areas correlate strongly and significantly (p<0.0001) with spirometry. The correlation between LAA-856E and forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and the ratio of FEV1 to forced vital capacity (FVC) (r=-0.77 and -0.84, respectively) is stronger than the correlation between LAA-950I and FEV1 and FEV1/FVC (r=-0.67 and r=-0.76). Inspiratory and expiratory volume changes decreased with increasing disease severity, as measured by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (GOLD) staging system (p<0.0001). When airway variables were included with low-attenuation area measures in a multiple regression model, the model accounted for a statistically greater proportion of variation in FEV1 and FEV1/FVC (R2=0.72 and 0.77, respectively). Airway measurements alone are less correlated with spirometric measures of FEV1 (r=0.15 to -0.44) and FEV1/FVC (r=0.19 to -0.34).
Conclusion: QCT measurements are strongly associated with spirometric results showing impairment in smokers. LAA-856E strongly correlates with physiologic measurements of airway obstruction. Airway measurements can be used concurrently with QCT measures of low-attenuation areas to accurately predict lung function.