The use of medical imaging can provide vital information tailored to the symptoms and exercise capabilities of patients with COPD, according to a study.

For the study, they performed conventional CT and inhaled noble gas MRI, a technique for visualizing air spaces in the lungs, on 116 people with COPD, including 80 with milder disease. Participants provided informed consent to an ethics board approved HIPAA-compliant protocol and underwent spirometry and plethysmography, completed the St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), completed a 6-minute walk test to measure their exercise tolerance over a short period of time, and underwent hyperpolarized helium 3 (3He) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and computed tomography (CT).

The coauthors conclude that patients with mild-to-moderate COPD, MR imaging emphysema measurements played a dominant role in the expression of exercise limitation, while both CT and MR imaging measurements of emphysema explained symptoms.

Researchers at the Robarts Institute Parraga lab think lung function can be understood and explained by exploring the interplay between the airways and airspaces as they grow, develop and adapt in response to the external environment. Research in the lab is directed towards a detailed understanding of lung structure and function, with an emphasis on the development of human medical imaging tools.

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