According to the findings of a recent study, the use of MRI and CT scans may provide insight into better and more appropriate treatments for patients with chronic COPD. A research team from the Robarts Research Institute in London, Ontario, Canada examined patients with mild to moderate COPD in order to determine the effects imaging measurements of emphysema and airway disease in identifying COPD symptoms. The 116 patients included underwent conventional CT and inhaled noble gas MRI, which enabled the researchers to visualize air space in the patients’ lungs.

In addition, the participants also underwent lung capacity testing, completed a quality of life survey, and a completed a 6-minute test that examined their exercise tolerance over short bursts of time. In patients with mild to moderate COPD with somewhat abnormal forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), the MRI measurements indicating emphysema were strongly linked to exercise limitation, according to an HCP Live report. CT scans and MRI measurements of emphysema aided in the explanations of symptoms.

The HCP Live report indicates that this is significant for patients with mild COPD and abnormal FEV1 capacity because the mild disease patients can change their medication regimens if necessary based on the details provided by the lung imaging. The researchers explain that patients can take steps to reduce their symptoms of emphysema, which is significant because emphysema is an often less acknowledged source of COPD onset, which may be a reason for less optimal treatment.

Grace Parraga, PhD, said, “Our study shows that when COPD symptoms and exercise limitations are discordant with FEV1 measurements, we should consider using lung imaging to provide a deeper understanding of the patient’s disease and to help improve their quality of life.”

For future studies, the researchers would like to conduct studies to determine if imaging can help explain the symptoms and disease control in other lung diseases such as asthma or cystic fibrosis.

Source: HCP Live