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New Method for Combined Quantitative Assessment of Air-Trapping and Emphysema on Chest Computed Tomography in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Comparison with Parametric Response Mapping

Objective: Emphysema and small-airway disease are the two major components of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We propose a novel method of quantitative computed tomography (CT) emphysema air-trapping composite (EAtC) mapping to assess each COPD component. We analyzed the potential use of this method for assessing lung function in patients with COPD. Materials and methods: A total of 584 patients with COPD underwent inspiration and expiration CTs. Using pairwise analysis of inspiration and expiration CTs with non-rigid registration, EAtC mapping classified lung parenchyma into three areas: Normal, functional air trapping (fAT), and emphysema (Emph). We defined fAT as the area with a density change of less than 60 Hounsfield units (HU) between inspiration and expiration CTs among areas with a density less than -856 HU on inspiration CT. The volume fraction of each area was compared with clinical parameters and pulmonary function tests (PFTs). The results were compared with those of parametric response mapping (PRM) analysis. Results: The relative volumes of the EAtC classes differed according to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease stages (p < 0.001). Each class showed moderate correlations with forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and FEV1/forced vital capacity (FVC) (r = -0.659-0.674, p < 0.001). Both fAT and Emph were significant predictors of FEV1 and FEV1/FVC (R² = 0.352 and 0.488, respectively; p < 0.001). fAT was a significant predictor of mean forced expiratory flow between 25% and 75% and residual volume/total vital capacity (R² = 0.264 and 0.233, respectively; p < 0.001), while Emph and age were significant predictors of carbon monoxide diffusing capacity (R² = 0.303; p < 0.001). fAT showed better correlations with PFTs than with small-airway disease on PRM. Conclusion: The proposed quantitative CT EAtC mapping provides comprehensive lung functional information on each disease component of COPD, which may serve as an imaging biomarker of lung function. Keywords: Air trapping; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Computed tomography; Emphysema; Quantitative imaging; Small-airway disease.

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