Bronchial morphometry in smokers: comparison with healthy subjects by using 3D CT
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The assessment of airway dimensions in patients with airway disease by using computed tomography (CT) has been limited by the obliquity of bronchi, the ability to identify the bronchial generation, and the limited number of bronchial measurements. The aims of the present study were (i) to analyze cross-sectional bronchial dimensions after automatic orthogonal reconstruction of all visible bronchi on CT images, and (ii) to compare bronchial morphometry between smokers and nonsmokers. CT and pulmonary function tests were performed in 18 males separated into two groups: 9 nonsmokers and 9 smokers. Bronchial wall area (WA) and lumen area (LA) were assessed using dedicated 3D software able to provide accurate cross-sectional measurements of all visible bronchi on CT. WA/LA and WA/(WA+LA) ratios were computed and all parameters were compared between both groups. Smokers demonstrated greater WA, smaller LA, and consequently greater LA/WA and LA/(WA+LA) ratios than nonsmokers. These differences occurred downward starting at the fourth bronchial generation. 3D quantitative CT method is able to demonstrate significant changes in bronchial morphometry related to tobacco consumption.