Researchers found that 3D-computed tomography (CT) images could be a clinically useful alternative when pulmonary function tests (PFTs) are not available, and published their results in Respiratory Research.

They analyzed and standardized lung volumes using reconstructed 3D-CT images from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), with the aim of evaluating the correlations between the images and PFTs.

“CT imaging can be performed with minimal patient effort, such as a full inspiration breath-hold for a few seconds, making it possible in patients with severe respiratory failure, such as advanced IPF or [acute exacerbation] of IPF,” the authors said.

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“In addition, recent advances in [3D-CT] allow for a detailed reconstruction of lung images, providing accurate lung volume measurements in different lung lobes.”

The research team retrospectively reviewed the records of 190 consecutive patients with IPF in Japan between January 2007 and July 2020. Ultimately, a total of 140 chest CTs upon IPF diagnosis were included in the analysis, along with 53 age- and sex-matched controls.

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The results showed that the standardized 3D-CT lung volume of the entire lung correlated well with forced vital capacity and served as an independent prognostic factor for mortality in both patients with IPF and patients with acute exacerbation of IPF. The authors noted that lung volumes depend on individual characteristics such as age, sex, and body size; therefore a standardized approach with specific indicators is desirable.

They concluded that the 3D-CT accurately represents lung physiology and could therefore provide additional insight into survival and prognosis in IPF, and could be a useful alternative in patients with respiratory failure, in whom PFTs cannot be performed.  


Tanaka Y, Suzuki Y, Hasegawa H, et al. Standardised 3D-CT lung volumes for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Respir Res. Published online June 1, 2022. doi.10.1186