RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES
The authors investigated the influence of cigarette smoking on healthy, asymptomatic smokers and nonsmokers with the help of spirometric triggered quantitative computed tomography. In our prospective study, the authors compared conventional lung function parameters with the computed tomography values (lung attenuation, lung area).
The study group comprised 40 healthy volunteers consisting of 20 smokers and nonsmokers (20 females and 20 males). The corresponding groups have been matched concerning their age, height, body mass, (cigarette) pack years. Computer tomography scans were triggered at 35%, 50%, 70% and 95% of vital capacity at a defined apical and a basal level.
Functional residual capacity (FRC), total lung capacity and airway resistance showed close correlations to lung parenchymal attenuation values especially at full inspiration and expiration. For example, the authors found a correlation coefficient of r = -0.845 (P ≤ 0.001) concerning the FRC and lung attenuation values in the apical lung at 35% of vital capacity in male smokers. Male smokers proved to have a significantly higher pulmonary lung density at all inspiratory states than the other groups (P ≤ 0.05; Student's t test).
Although male smokers had a higher vital capacity they showed a smaller cross-sectional area increase of the lung during inspiration than nonsmokers. This phenomenon is a result of the decreasing compliance of the smoker's lung, due to small airways disease and hypoxic vasoconstriction.
Spirometric-triggered quantitative computed tomography has proved to be a sensitive diagnostic device for the investigation of early pathomorphologic changes in healthy, asymptomatic cigarette smokers.