Purpose: Traditionally, determination of total lung capacity (TLC) by plethysmography (TLC pleth) has been important in the diagnosis of lung diseases. Alternatively, data acquired from computerized tomography (CT) can be utilized to calculate a measure of TLC (TLC CT). The clinical utility of TLC CT is not certain. We sought to determine, in a clinical setting, whether TLC CT correlates with TLC pleth across a range of lung diseases and scanning techniques. In addition, we determined whether TLC CT affects the interpretation of pulmonary function tests. Subjects and Methods: Records of 118 of 148 consecutive lung transplant recipients were reviewed and determined to have coinciding pulmonary function tests, including plethysmography as well as volumetric chest CT performed supine during full inspiration. CT images acquired with a wide range of scanning protocols were analyzed using CALIPER, a software program for lung and trachea extraction from a CT volume and volumetric tissue characterization of the lung. Segmentation of the lung was achieved by using completely automated dynamic thresholding and region-growing techniques developed to extract the relatively low-density lung and tracheal anatomy from the CT data set without user intervention. Results: TLC pleth and TLC CT were strongly related with a correlation coefficient of 0.88 (P<0.001). The efficacy of the CT-derived measure was not influenced by specific lung diagnoses, age, height, body mass index, or spirometric parameters. TLC CT did not misidentify any diagnosis of restrictive lung disease, nor hyperinflation. Conclusions: In a clinical setting, CT segmentation analysis provides a favorable determination of TLC compared with traditional plethysmography. The technique has general applicability across varying CT data acquisition protocols, lung diseases, and patient characteristics. TLC CT may substitute for TLC pleth in pulmonary function interpretation and may be preferable for some patients in whom plethysmography is difficult to perform, such as transplant subjects with severe pulmonary fibrosis.
- computed tomographic segmentation
- lung volumes
- total lung capacity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine