Rationale: Sensitive outcome measures applicable in different centres to quantify and track early pulmonary abnormalities in infants with cystic fibrosis (CF) are needed both for clinical care and interventional trials. Chest CT has been advocated as such a measure yet there is no validated scoring system in infants.
Objectives: The objectives of this study were to standardise CT data collection across multiple sites; ascertain the incidence of bronchial dilatation and air trapping in newborn screened (NBS) infants with CF at 1 year; and assess the reproducibility of Brody-II, the most widely used scoring system in children with CF, during infancy.
Methods: A multicentre observational study of early pulmonary lung disease in NBS infants with CF at age 1 year using volume-controlled chest CT performed under general anaesthetic.
Main results: 65 infants with NBS-diagnosed CF had chest CT in three centres. Small insignificant variations in lung recruitment manoeuvres but significant centre differences in radiation exposures were found. Despite experienced scorers and prior training, with the exception of air trapping, inter- and intraobserver agreement on Brody-II score was poor to fair (eg, interobserver total score mean (95% CI) κ coefficient: 0.34 (0.20 to 0.49)). Only 7 (11%) infants had a total CT score ≥ 12 (ie, ≥ 5% maximum possible) by either scorer.
Conclusions: In NBS infants with CF, CT changes were very mild at 1 year, and assessment of air trapping was the only reproducible outcome. CT is thus of questionable value in infants of this age, unless an improved scoring system for use in mild CF disease can be developed.