Background: Lung volume reduction surgery is known to alleviate dyspnea and to improve pulmonary function, performance in daily activity, and quality of life in selected patients with severe pulmonary emphysema. We investigated the role of radiologically assessed emphysema morphology on functional outcome after a lung volume reduction operation.
Methods: The preoperative chest computed tomograms in 50 consecutive patients who had undergone surgical lung volume reduction were retrospectively reviewed by 6 physicians blinded to the clinical outcome. Emphysema morphology was determined according to a simplified classification (ie, homogeneous, moderately heterogeneous, and markedly heterogeneous; lobe predominance). We studied the impact of these morphologic aspects on functional outcome at 3 months.
Results: We found a fair interobserver agreement applying our classification system. Functional improvement after surgical lung volume reduction was best in markedly heterogeneous emphysema with an increase in forced expiratory volume in 1 second of 81% +/- 17% (mean +/- standard error, n = 17) compared with 44% +/- 10% (n = 16) for intermediately heterogeneous emphysema. But also in patients with homogeneous emphysema clinical relevant improvement of function could be observed (increase in forced expiratory volume in 1 second = 34% +/- 6%; n = 17).
Conclusions: The morphologic type of emphysema, assessed by a simplified surgically oriented classification, is an important predictor of surgical outcome. Lung volume reduction surgery may also improve dyspnea and lung function in homogeneous emphysema.