The purpose of this study was twofold: to evaluate the change in size of honeycomb cysts with respiration using inspiratory-expiratory spiral volumetric CT (I-E SVCT) and to establish the pathologic basis of this change.
Ninety-seven patients, who had honeycombing associated with end-stage pulmonary fibrosis on end-inspiratory 1 to 2 mm collimation high resolution CT (HRCT), underwent I-E SVCT (3 mm collimation, pitch 1, breath-hold time 20 s, reconstruction interval 1 mm, FOV 16-20 cm, high frequency algorithm). I-E SVCT scans were assessed on images obtained in the transverse plane and volumetric sagittal, coronal, and oblique reformations. The histologic findings were assessed in four inflated and fixed lungs that showed honeycombing at postmortem HRCT.
In 63 patients (65%), a small percentage of the cysts did not change in size at end-expiration, while in the remaining patients, all the cysts decreased in size. Assessment of volumetric multiplanar reformations showed that cysts that decreased in size during exhalation communicated with airways and represented bronchiolectasis rather than true cysts, while the other cysts did not communicate with the airways. Similar findings were found in pathologic specimens.
The majority of, but not all, honeycomb cysts seen on HRCT represent dilated bronchioles that communicate with the proximal airways and change in size with respiration.