Relations between cardiopulmonary exercise testing and quantitative high-resolution computed tomography associated in patients with alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency

Eur J Med Res. 1998 Nov 17;3(11):527-32.


High-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) can be used to diagnose and quantify emphysema noninvasively, as significant correlations have been found between the histological grade on resected lung specimens and quantified (q) computed tomography (CT). In this study, we performed thin section qHRCT in patients with severe hereditary alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency. AAT deficiency is the most common genetic cause of emphysema in adults, and exercise intolerance is the most disabling, distressing consequence of emphysema for the majority of patients. qHRCT was used to quantify precisely the alterations in the lung parenchyma due to pulmonary emphysema. Up until now, the important relationship between the severity of emphysema and the reduced exercise capacity has received little attention. Therefore the purpose of the study was to investigate the relationship between emphysema as displayed by qHRCT and cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPX) in patients with severe cardiopulmonary impairment. - qHRCT was performed in 21 patients with homozygous AAT deficiency. CT scans were obtained at three spirometrically standardized levels at the carina and (5 cm above and below the carina). The mean lung density at 50% of vital capacity and a quantitative histogram analysis of the frequencies of CT values were determined. All patients underwent symptom-limited CPX to analyse simultaneously cardiovascular and ventilatory systems responses. - In all patients, qualitative CT assessment demonstrated panlobular emphysema with large and extensive areas of uniform low attenuation, characteristically with a lower-lobe distribution. Mean CT density values of the patients (-845 +/- 6.9 (mean +/- SEM)) were significantly correlated with work capacity (r = 0.55, p <0.01), oxygen-pulse (r = 0.54, p <0.01) and functional dead space ventilation (r = -0.54, p <0.01). Moreover, severe emphysema index (CT values below a threshold value of 950 HU) correlated positively with functional dead space ventilation (r = 0.60, p <0.01) and alveolar-arterial oxygen difference (r = 0.70, p <0.001). - These results clearly demonstrate that CPX parameters, indicating a disturbed pulmonary gas exchange and a ventilation-perfusion-mismatch during exercise, are significantly related to the extent of lung emphysema.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Exercise Test*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / diagnosis*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / etiology
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange
  • Respiratory Dead Space
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Ventilation-Perfusion Ratio
  • Vital Capacity
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency / complications
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency / diagnostic imaging*
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency / physiopathology*