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COPD. 2007 Jun;4(2):143-61.

Imaging in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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  • 1Department of Respiratory Medicine, Gentofte University Hospital, Hellerup, Denmark.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is divided into pulmonary emphysema and chronic bronchitis (CB). Emphysema is defined patho-anatomically as "permanent enlargement of airspaces distal to the terminal bronchiole, accompanied by the destruction of their walls, and without obvious fibrosis" (1). These lesions are readily identified and quantitated using computed tomography (CT), whereas the accompanying hyperinflation is best detected on plain chest X-ray, especially in advanced disease. The diagnosis of CB is clinical and relies on the presence of productive cough for 3 months in 2 or more successive years. The pathological changes of mucosal inflammation and bronchial wall thickening have been more difficult to identify with available imaging techniques. However, recent studies using Multi-detector row CT (MDCT) reported more reproducible assessment of air wall thickening.

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