Assessment of methacholine-induced airway constriction by ultrafast high-resolution computed tomography

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1993 Nov;75(5):2239-50. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1993.75.5.2239.


Assessment of changes in airway dimensions during bronchoconstriction is conventionally based on measurements of respiratory mechanics. We evaluated the efficacy of ultrafast high-resolution computed tomography (UHRCT) to directly determine the dynamic changes in cross-sectional area (CSA) of airways in response to methacholine (MCh). UHRCT scans were obtained at functional residual capacity before (baseline) and after intravenous bolus injections of MCh (10(-8.5)-10(-7.0) mol/kg) to seven mechanically ventilated pigs. Changes in CSA of bronchi of varying baseline size (1-10 mm diam) were determined by using a customized image processing software package (VIDA) based on a user-directed computer-adjusted edge-finding algorithm. MCh induced dose-dependent decreases in CSA, which were paralleled by increases in airway opening pressure at higher doses of MCh; at lower doses of MCh, decreases in CSA of smaller airways were detected without concomitant changes in airway opening pressure. Changes in CSA were heterogeneous and variable, especially in the smaller airway ranges. The results of the present study support the concept that UHRCT can be used in conjunction with bolus challenges to effectively determine dose-response changes in airway caliber in both large and small airways. This technique provides data that may not be reflected by conventional lung function measurements and, hence, is a useful tool to study airway reactivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchi / anatomy & histology
  • Bronchi / drug effects*
  • Bronchoconstriction / drug effects*
  • Bronchography
  • Female
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Methacholine Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Plastic Embedding
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Swine
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Methacholine Compounds