New frontiers in CT imaging of airway disease
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Combining helical volumetric CT acquisition and thin-slice thickness during breath hold provides an accurate assessment of both focal and diffuse airway diseases. With multiple detector rows, compared with single-slice helical CT, multislice CT can cover a greater volume, during a simple breath hold, and with better longitudinal and in-plane spatial resolution and improved temporal resolution. The result in data set allows the generation of superior multiplanar and 3D images of the airways, including those obtained from techniques developed specifically for airway imaging, such as virtual bronchography and virtual bronchoscopy. Complementary CT evaluation at suspended or continuous full expiration is mandatory to detect air trapping that is a key finding for depicting an obstruction on the small airways. Indications for CT evaluation of the airways include: (a) detection of endobronchial lesions in patients with an unexplained hemoptysis; (b) evaluation of extent of tracheobronchial stenosis for planning treatment and follow-up; (c) detection of congenital airway anomalies revealed by hemoptysis or recurrent infection; (d) detection of postinfectious or postoperative airway fistula or dehiscence; and (e) diagnosis and assessment of extent of bronchiectasis and small airway disease. Improvement in image analysis technique and the use of spirometrically control of lung volume acquisition have made possible accurate and reproducible quantitative assessment of airway wall and lumen areas and lung density. This contributes to better insights in physiopathology of obstructive lung disease, particularly in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.
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