Abnormal ventilation scans in middle-aged smokers. Comparison with tests of overall lung function

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1985 Jul;132(1):148-51. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1985.132.1.148.


We have assessed the uniformity of regional ventilation during tidal breathing using continuous inhalation of krypton-81m in 43 male, lifelong nonsmokers and 46 male, current cigarette smokers (mean daily consumption 24.1 cigarettes/day) between 44 and 61 yr of age and with mild or no respiratory symptoms. All subjects had normal chest radiographs. The results of the ventilation scans were compared with tests of overall lung function (spirometry, maximal expiratory flow-volume curves, and single-breath N2 test). Diffuse abnormalities of the ventilation scan were found in 19 (41%) of the 46 smokers but in none of the nonsmokers. Focal abnormalities were found in 7 smokers and 3 nonsmokers. Smokers showed the expected abnormalities in overall lung function (reduced FEV1 and VC, increased single-breath N2 slope, and closing volume), but in individual smokers there was only a weak relation between the severity of abnormality of overall lung function and an abnormal ventilation scan. Abnormal scans could be found when overall lung function was normal and were not invariably found when significant abnormalities in FEV1/VC or N2 slope were present. There was no relation between the presence of chronic expectoration and an abnormal scan. The prognostic significance of an abnormal ventilation scan in such smokers remains to be established.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Krypton
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Radioisotopes
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Respiratory Function Tests*
  • Smoking*


  • Radioisotopes
  • Krypton