This study aimed to assess the feasibility of quantification of bronchial dimensions at MDCT using dedicated software (BronCare). We evaluated the reliability of the software to segment the airways and defined criteria ensuring accurate measurements. BronCare was applied on two successive examinations in 10 mild asthmatic patients. Acquisitions were performed at pneumotachographically controlled lung volume (65% TLC), with reconstructions focused on the right lung base. Five validation criteria were imposed: (1) bronchus type: segmental and subsegmental; (2) lumen area (LA)>4 mm2; (3) bronchus length (Lg) > 7 mm; (4) confidence index - giving the percentage of the bronchus not abutted by a vessel - (CI) >55% for validation of wall area (WA) and (5) a minimum of 10 contiguous cross-sectional images fulfilling the criteria. A complete segmentation procedure on both acquisitions made possible an evaluation of LA and WA in 174/223 (78%) and 171/174 (98%) of bronchi, respectively. The validation criteria were met for 56/69 (81%) and for 16/69 (23%) of segmental bronchi and for 73/102 (72%) and 58/102 (57%) of subsegmental bronchi, for LA and WA, respectively. In conclusion, BronCare is reliable to segment the airways in clinical practice. The proposed criteria seem appropriate to select bronchi candidates for measurement.
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The authors thank the ECR for its financial support through the R & E Fund grants.
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