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Chest. 2014 Dec;146(6):1554-1565. doi: 10.1378/chest.13-2855.

Heterogeneity of specific gas volume changes: a new tool to plan lung volume reduction in COPD.

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TBMLab, Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Bioingegneria, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy. Electronic address:
TBMLab, Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Bioingegneria, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy.
Center for Pulmonary Imaging Research, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH; Department of Physics, Washington University, St. Louis, MO.



The aim of this work was to investigate if regional differences of specific gas volume (SVg) in the different regions (lobes and bronchopulmonary segments) in healthy volunteers and patients with severe emphysema can be used as a tool for planning lung volume reduction (LVR) in emphysema.


CT scans of 10 healthy subjects and 10 subjects with severe COPD were obtained at end-inspiration (total lung capacity [TLC]) and end-expiration (residual volume [RV]). For each subject, ΔSVg (ΔSVg = SVg,TLC - SVg,RV, where SVg,TLC and SVg,RV are specific gas volume at TLC and RV, respectively) vs ΔV (ΔV = V,TLC-V,RV, where V,TLC and V,RV are lung volume at TLC and RV, respectively) was plotted for the entire lung, each lobe, and all bronchopulmonary segments. For each subject, a heterogeneity index (HI) was defined to quantify the range of variability of ΔSVg/ΔV in all bronchopulmonary regions.


In patients with COPD, SVg,TLC and SVg,RV were significantly higher and ΔSVg variations lower than in healthy subjects (P < .001). In COPD, ΔSVg/ΔV slopes were lower in upper lobes than in lower lobes. In healthy subjects, the entire lung, lobes, and bronchopulmonary segments all showed similar ΔSVg/ΔV slopes, whereas in COPD a high variance was found. As a consequence, HI was significantly higher in subjects with COPD than in healthy subjects (0.80 ± 0.34 vs 0.15 ± 0.10, respectively; P < .001).


SVg variations within the lung are highly homogeneous in healthy subjects. Regions with low ΔSVg/ΔV (ie, more pronounced gas trapping) should be considered as target areas for LVR. Regions with negative values of ΔSVg/ΔV identify where collateral ventilation is present. HI is helpful to assess the patient in the different stages of disease and the effect of different LVR treatments.

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