Centrilobular emphysema: CT-pathologic correlation

Radiology. 1986 Apr;159(1):27-32. doi: 10.1148/radiology.159.1.3952318.


Over a 5-year period, 25 patients who had undergone chest computed tomography (CT) died and were autopsied. Their lungs were fixed in the inflated state and were assessed for the presence and severity of centrilobular emphysema (CLE). Three radiologists independently evaluated the CT scans for nonperipheral low-attenuation areas, peripheral low-attenuation areas, pulmonary vascular pruning, pulmonary vascular distortion, and pulmonary density gradient. The CT criterion that best correlated with the presence and severity of CLE was the nonperipheral low-attenuation area. With this CT criterion, lung destruction was correctly identified in 13 of 15 cases. The absence of this criterion resulted in correct identification of eight of ten normal lungs. These preliminary data suggest that CLE can be reliably identified and quantified with current CT scanners.

MeSH terms

  • Emphysema / diagnostic imaging*
  • Emphysema / pathology
  • Humans
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed