Quantitative CT helps identify COPD patitients at risk for exacerbations

January 3, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- National Jewish Health researchers and their colleagues in the COPDGene research consortium report that a computerized form of radiology, known as quantitative CT, can offer valuable prognostic information for patients and doctors beyond the standard breathing tests most commonly used to evaluate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“Our findings indicate that quantitative CT scans can help identify patients at greater risk for damaging exacerbations of their disease,” said James D. Crapo, MD, Professor of Medicine at National Jewish Health and co-author of the paper that appeared in the October 2011 issue of . “The findings also help us identify distinct phenotypes among the COPD patient population, who could benefit from individualized, targeted management of their disease.”

Progression of COPD does not occur at a steady rate. Exacerbations, flare-ups of the disease sometimes requiring hospitalization, accelerate the decline in lung function, increase the risk of death and lower quality of life. Being able to identify patients at greater risk of exacerbations, and possibly prevent them is an important goal in care of COPD patients.

, known as spirometry, are the standard tool for evaluating and staging COPD. Although worse results on spirometry do broadly correlate with exacerbations, there are many exceptions. For this and other reasons, physicians have been seeking better tools to evaluate their COPD patients.

The COPDGene research team sought to evaluate the ability of radiologic imaging to be that tool. They used quantitative CT, a computerized method of measuring lighter and darker areas of the scan, to measure inflammation as determined by thickness of airway walls and the amount of tissue destruction or emphysema.

They found that greater airway wall thickness and emphysema were both associated with more frequent exacerbations. Each 1 millimeter increase in bronchial wall thickness was associated with a 1.84-fold increase in annual exacerbation rate. Emphysema became a factor only if it involved 35 percent or more of the lungs. Beyond the 35 percent involvement, each 5 percent increase in emphysema was associated with a 1.18-fold in crease in exacerbations.

“Quantitative CT scans can help identify patients at greater risk for exacerbations independent of their spirometry results,” said Dr. Crapo. “This could be valuable in identifying specific individuals for targeted medical therapy.”

Explore further: Depression may increase exacerbations, hospitalizations in COPD

Related Stories

Commonly prescribed antibiotic reduces acute COPD attacks

August 24, 2011

Adding a common antibiotic to the usual daily treatment regimen for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can reduce the occurrence of acute exacerbations and improve quality of life, reports new results from a clinical ...

Recommended for you

Zika virus may persist in the vagina days after infection

August 25, 2016

The Zika virus reproduces in the vaginal tissue of pregnant mice several days after infection, according to a study by Yale researchers. From the genitals, the virus spreads and infects the fetal brain, impairing fetal development. ...

In sub-Saharan Africa, cancer can be an infectious disease

August 26, 2016

In 1963, Irish surgeon Denis Parson Burkitt airmailed samples of an unusual jaw tumor found in Ugandan children to his colleague, Anthony Epstein, at Middlesex Hospital in London. Epstein, an expert in chicken viruses and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.