Rationale and objectives: Nine patients were examined using dynamic electron beam computed tomography to assess the utility of this technique in detecting airway obstruction and air trapping, and to compare this technique with pulmonary physiologic testing.
Methods: Dynamic computed tomography (C-100 Ultrafast CT scanner, Imatron, Inc., South San Francisco, CA) was performed, with a series of ten, 100-msec images obtained in a 6-second period during forced inhalation and exhalation. Time-attenuation curves were calculated from the observed changes in lung attenuation. Estimates of the percentage of each lung that showed air trapping were made at each level scanned, using a 5-point scale. Specific correlations were made for pulmonary function test results and air-trapping score.
Results: In all nine patients, dynamic computed tomography demonstrated one or more sites that failed to show a normal increase in lung attenuation during forced exhalation. Four of these 9 patients showed a paradoxical decrease in lung attenuation during exhalation in at least one region of the lung. Extent of air-trapping correlated well with forced expiratory volume in one second (r = -.92).
Conclusions: Based on this small sample, the authors believe that this technique will prove sensitive for detecting abnormalities of ventilation and may be a useful adjunct to conventional diagnostic procedures in the management of disorders of airway obstruction.