Quantitative computed tomography phenotypes, spirometric parameters, and episodes of exacerbation in heavy smokers: An analysis from South America.

Research paper by Marcelo Cardoso MC Barros, Bruno B Hochhegger, Stephan S Altmayer, Guilherme G Watte, Matheus M Zanon, Ana Paula AP Sartori, Daniela D Cavalet Blanco, Gabriel Sartori GS Pacini, Jose Miguel JM Chatkin

Indexed on: 12 Oct '18Published on: 12 Oct '18Published in: PloS one


To evaluate the quantitative computed tomography (QCT) phenotypes, airflow limitations, and exacerbation-like episodes in heavy smokers in Southern Brazil. We enrolled 172 smokers with a smoking history ≥30 pack-years who underwent pulmonary function tests (PFTs) and CT scan for lung cancer screening. Patients were classified regarding airflow limitation (FEV1/FVC <0.7 forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced vital capacity) and the presence of emphysema on the QCT. The QCT were analyzed in specialized software and patients were classified in two disease-predominant phenotypes: emphysema-predominant (EP) and non-emphysema-predominant (NEP). EP was determined as ≥6% of percent low-attenuation areas (LAA%) with less than -950 Hounsfield units. NEP was defined as having a total LAA% of less than 6%. Most of our patients were classified in the EP phenotype. The EP group had significantly worse predicted FEV1 (60.6 ±22.9 vs. 89.7 ±15.9, p <0.001), higher rates of airflow limitation (85.7% vs. 15%; p <0.001), and had more exacerbation-like episodes (25.8% vs. 8.3%, p <0.001) compared to the NEP group. Smoking history, ethnicity, and BMI did not differ between the groups. The total LAA% was the QCT parameter with the strongest correlation to FEV1 (r = -0.669) and FEV1/FVC (r = -0.787). Heavy smokers with the EP phenotype on QCT were more likely to have airflow limitation, worse predicted FEV1, and a higher rate of exacerbation-like episodes than those with the NEP phenotype. Approximately 23% of patients with no airflow limitation on PFTs were classified in EP phenotype.