Assessment of methacholine-induced airway constriction by ultrafast high- resolution computed tomography

I. Amirav, S. S. Kramer, M. M. Grunstein, E. A. Hoffman

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149 Scopus citations


Assessment of changes in airway dimensions during bronchoconstriction is conventionally based on measurements of respiratory mechanics. We evaluated the efficacy of ultrafast high-resolution computed tomography (UHRCT) to directly determine the dynamic changes in cross-sectional area (CSA) of airways in response to methacholine (MCh). UHRCT scans were obtained at functional residual capacity before (baseline) and after intravenous bolus injections of MCh (10-8.5-10-7.0 mol/kg) to seven mechanically ventilated pigs. Changes in CSA of bronchi of varying baseline size (1-10 mm diam) were determined by using a customized image processing software package (VIDA) based on a user-directed computer-adjusted edge-finding algorithm. MCh induced dose-dependent decreases in CSA, which were paralleled by increases in airway opening pressure at higher doses of MCh; at lower doses of MCh, decreases in CSA of smaller airways were detected without concomitant changes in airway opening pressure. Changes in CSA were heterogeneous and variable, especially in the smaller airway ranges. The results of the present study support the concept that UHRCT can be used in conjunction with bolus challenges to effectively determine dose-response changes in airway caliber in both large and small airways. This technique provides data that may not be reflected by conventional lung function measurements and, hence, is a useful tool to study airway reactivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2239-2250
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1993
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteR01HL042672


    • X-ray computed tomography
    • airway reactivity
    • bronchoconstriction
    • electron beam tomography
    • image processing
    • pulmonary imaging


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