Background: Lung disease is the most frequent cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), and there is a shortage of sensitive biomarkers able to regionally monitor disease progression and to assess early responses to therapy.
Purpose: To determine the feasibility of noncontrast-enhanced multivolume MRI, which assesses intensity changes between expiratory and inspiratory breath-hold images, to detect and quantify regional ventilation abnormalities in CF lung disease, with a focus on the structure-function relationship.
Study type: Retrospective.
Population: Twenty-nine subjects, including healthy young children (n = 9, 7-37 months), healthy adolescents (n = 4, 14-22 years), young children with CF lung disease (n = 10, 7-47 months), and adolescents with CF lung disease (n = 6, 8-18 years) were studied.
Field strength/sequence: 3D spoiled gradient-recalled sequence at 1.5T.
Assessment: Subjects were scanned during breath-hold at functional residual capacity (FRC) and total lung capacity (TLC) through noncontrast-enhanced MRI and CT. Expiratory-inspiratory differences in MR signal-intensity (Δ1 H-MRI) and CT-density (ΔHU) were computed to estimate regional ventilation. MR and CT images were also evaluated using a CF-specific scoring system.
Statistical tests: Quadratic regression, Spearman's correlation, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA).
Results: Δ1 H-MRI maps were sensitive to ventilation heterogeneity related to gravity dependence in healthy lung and to ventilation impairment in CF lung disease. A high correlation was found between MRI and CT ventilation maps (R2 = 0.79, P < 0.001). Globally, Δ1 H-MRI and ΔHU decrease with increasing morphological score (respectively, R2 = 0.56, P < 0.001 and R2 = 0.31, P < 0.001). Locally, Δ1 H-MRI was higher in healthy regions (median 15%) compared to regions with bronchiectasis, air trapping, consolidation, and to segments fed by airways with bronchial wall thickening (P < 0.001).
Data conclusion: Multivolume noncontrast-enhanced MRI, as a nonionizing imaging modality that can be used on nearly any MRI scanner without specialized equipment or gaseous tracers, may be particularly valuable in CF care, providing a new imaging biomarker to detect early alterations in regional lung structure-function.
Level of evidence: 3 Technical Efficacy: Stage 3 J. MAGN. RESON. IMAGING 2018;48:531-542.
Keywords: cystic fibrosis; lung; pediatrics.
© 2018 International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.