, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 1160-1169
Date: 22 Dec 2011

Altered Lung Motion is a Sensitive Indicator of Regional Lung Disease

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Since lung diseases adversely affect airflow during breathing, they must also alter normal lung motion, which can be exploited to detect these diseases. However, standard imaging techniques such as CT and MRI imaging during breath-holds provide little or no information on lung motion and cannot detect diseases that cause subtle changes in lung structure. Phase-contrast X-ray imaging provides images of high contrast and spatial resolution with temporal resolutions that allow multiple images to be acquired throughout the respiratory cycle. Using X-ray phase-contrast imaging, coupled with velocimetry, we have measured lung tissue movement and determined velocity fields that define speed and direction of regional lung motion throughout a breath in normal Balb/c nude male mice and mice exposed to bleomycin. Regional maps of lung tissue motion reveal both the heterogeneity of normal lung motion, as well as abnormal motion induced by bleomycin treatment. Analysed histologically, bleomycin treatment caused pathological changes in lung structure that were heterogenous, occupying less than 12% of the lung at 6 days after treatment. Moreover, plethysmography failed to detect significant changes in compliance at either 36 h or 6 days after treatment. Detailed analysis of the vector fields demonstrated major differences (p < 0.001) in regional lung motion between control and bleomycin-treated mice at both 36 h and 6 days after treatment. The results of this study demonstrate that X-ray phase-contrast imaging, coupled with velocimetry, can detect early stage, subtle and non-uniform lung disease.

Associate Editor Kenneth R. Lutchen oversaw the review of this article.