Follow-up of CT-derived airway wall thickness: Correcting for changes in inspiration level improves reliability

Eur J Radiol. 2016 Nov;85(11):2008-2013. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2016.09.009. Epub 2016 Sep 13.


Objectives: Airway wall thickness (AWT) is affected by changes in lung volume. This study evaluated whether correcting AWT on computed tomography (CT) for differences in inspiration level improves measurement agreement, reliability, and power to detect changes over time.

Methods: Participants of the Dutch-Belgian lung cancer screening trial who underwent 3-month repeat CT for an indeterminate pulmonary nodule were included. AWT on CT was calculated by the square root of the wall area at a theoretical airway with an internal perimeter of 10mm (Pi10). The scan with the highest lung volume was labelled as the reference scan and the scan with the lowest lung volume was labelled as the comparison scan. Pi10 derived from the comparison scan was corrected by multiplying it with the ratio of CT lung volume of the comparison scan to CT lung volume on the reference scan. Agreement of uncorrected and corrected Pi10 was studied with the Bland-Altman method, reliability with intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC), and power to detect changes over time was calculated.

Results: 315 male participants were included. Limit of agreement and reliability for Pi10 was -0.61 to 0.57mm (ICC=0.87), which improved to -0.38 to 0.37mm (ICC=0.94) after correction for inspiration level. To detect a 15% change over 3 months, 71 subjects are needed for Pi10 and 26 subjects for Pi10 adjusted for inspiration level.

Conclusions: Correcting Pi10 for differences in inspiration level improves reliability, agreement, and power to detect changes over time.

Keywords: Airway wall thickness; Computed tomography; Follow-up; Lung volume; Reliability.

MeSH terms

  • Belgium
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Inhalation*
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / diagnostic imaging*
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / pathology
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / physiopathology
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Total Lung Capacity