Quantification of the thorax-to-abdomen breathing ratio for breathing motion modeling

Benjamin M. White, Tianyu Zhao, James Lamb, Jeffrey D. Bradley, Daniel A. Low

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to develop a methodology to quantitatively measure the thorax-to-abdomen breathing ratio from a 4DCT dataset for breathing motion modeling and breathing motion studies. Methods: The thorax-to-abdomen breathing ratio was quantified by measuring the rate of cross-sectional volume increase throughout the thorax and abdomen as a function of tidal volume. Twenty-six 16-slice 4DCT patient datasets were acquired during quiet respiration using a protocol that acquired 25 ciné scans at each couch position. Fifteen datasets included data from the neck through the pelvis. Tidal volume, measured using a spirometer and abdominal pneumatic bellows, was used as breathing-cycle surrogates. The cross-sectional volume encompassed by the skin contour when compared for each CT slice against the tidal volume exhibited a nearly linear relationship. A robust iteratively reweighted least squares regression analysis was used to determine η(i), defined as the amount of cross-sectional volume expansion at each slice i per unit tidal volume. The sum Ση(i) throughout all slices was predicted to be the ratio of the geometric expansion of the lung and the tidal volume; 1.11. The Xiphoid process was selected as the boundary between the thorax and abdomen. The Xiphoid process slice was identified in a scan acquired at mid-inhalation. The imaging protocol had not originally been designed for purposes of measuring the thorax-to-abdomen breathing ratio so the scans did not extend to the anatomy with η(i) = 0. Extrapolation of η(i)-η(i) = 0 was used to include the entire breathing volume. The thorax and abdomen regions were individually analyzed to determine the thorax-to-abdomen breathing ratios. There were 11 image datasets that had been scanned only through the thorax. For these cases, the abdomen breathing component was equal to 1.11 - Ση(i) where the sum was taken throughout the thorax. Results: The average Ση(i) for thorax and abdomen image datasets was found to be 1.20 ± 0.17, close to the expected value of 1.11. The thorax-to-abdomen breathing ratio was 0.32 ± 0.24. The average Ση(i) was 0.26 ± 0.14 in the thorax and 0.93 ± 0.22 in the abdomen. In the scan datasets that encompassed only the thorax, the average Ση(i) was 0.21 ± 0.11. Conclusions: A method to quantify the relationship between abdomen and thoracic breathing was developed and characterized.

Original languageEnglish
Article number063502
JournalMedical physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • 4DCT
  • tidal volume


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