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Acad Radiol. 2011 Oct;18(10):1277-84. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2011.04.019. Epub 2011 Jul 12.

Influence of CT reconstruction settings on extremely low attenuation values for specific gas volume calculation in severe emphysema.

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  • 1TBMLab, Dipartimento di Bioingegneria, Politecnico di Milano, Italy. caterina.salito@polimi.it



Emphysema is characterized by lung tissue destruction and trapped gas. On computed tomographic (CT) images, this may be expressed by widespread areas with high specific gas volume (SV(g)). SV(g) is highly sensitive to very low attenuation values, which frequently occur in the CT images of patients with severe emphysema. The purpose of the present work was to study if and how different reconstruction settings and different scanners significantly influence SV(g) distribution, particularly in the very low attenuation range.


Two sets of CT images taken from two different CT scanners at two different lung volumes in 10 healthy volunteers and 18 subjects with severe emphysema were analyzed. Images were reconstructed using two different settings of reconstruction parameters: (1) thin slice thickness and sharp filter and (2) thick slice thickness and smooth filter. For each set of images, average values of SV(g) and their variation (ΔSV(g)) from total lung capacity to residual volume were calculated in the whole lung.


Very low attenuation values are always present in CT images when reconstructed with thin slice thickness and a sharp filter and in very large numbers in patients with severe emphysema. SV(g) values were in general significantly higher in patients with emphysema than in healthy subjects, at both total lung capacity and residual volume (P < .001), and were significantly influenced by the reconstruction filter (P < .001) and CT scanner (P < .001). ΔSV(g) was lower in patients with emphysema than in healthy subjects (P < .001) and was significantly affected by the reconstruction setting but not by the CT scanner.


The disproportionate effect of low-attenuation pixels on SV(g) likely causes overestimation of the severity of emphysema and trapped gas. This can be significantly reduced, however, by using thick slices and a smooth filter for image reconstruction. ΔSV(g) is generally robust for quantifying the functional impairment of the lung in severe emphysema.

Copyright © 2011 AUR. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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