Expiratory CT in cigarette smokers: correlation between areas of decreased lung attenuation, pulmonary function tests and smoking history

Eur Radiol. 1998;8(8):1391-9. doi: 10.1007/s003300050558.


The aim of this study was to determine the correlation between cigarette-smoke-related bronchial disease and air trapping as assessed by expiratory high-resolution CT (HRCT) scans. Thirty healthy subjects (11 non-smokers, 7 ex-smokers for > 2 years, 12 current smokers; age range 35-55 years) with a smoking history between 0 and 28.5 pack-years underwent pulmonary function tests (PFT) and HRCT in inspiration and expiration in supine and prone position. The extent of air trapping was scored in ventral and dorsal aspects of the upper, middle and lower lung portions. In 24 subjects (7 non-smokers, 7 ex-smokers, 10 current smokers) areas of focal air trapping were found, and were present significantly more often in dependent lung portions (p < 0.05) compared with non-dependent portions. No significant differences were found between apical and basal lung zones. Scores of focal air trapping were not significantly different between smokers and ex-smokers, but were significantly lower (p < 0.05) in non-smokers and showed a significant (p < 0.0005) correlation with pack-years. The degree of air trapping was also associated with several lung function tests, especially RV, DLCO, FRC, FEV1 and FEV1/VC. Air trapping is seen in smokers with normal PFT and correlates with the severity of the smoking history, independently of current smoking status.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bronchiolitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bronchiolitis / etiology
  • Bronchiolitis / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prone Position
  • Respiration*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Supine Position
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*