Quantitative CT assessment of emphysema and airways in relation to lung cancer risk

David S. Gierada, Preethi Guniganti, Blake J. Newman, Mark T. Dransfield, Paul A. Kvale, David A. Lynch, Thomas K. Pilgram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine whether quantitative computed tomographic (CT) measurements of emphysema and airway dimensions are associated with lung cancer risk in a screening population. Materials and Methods: Institutional review board approval and informed consent for the use of deidentified images were obtained. In this retrospective study, CT scans were analyzed from 279 participants in the CT screening arm of the National Lung Screening Trial who were diagnosed with lung cancer and 279 participants who were not diagnosed with lung cancer after a median follow-up period of 6.6 years. Quantitative CT measurements of emphysema and right upper lobe apical segmental and subsegmental airway dimensions, and multiple patient history-related variables, were compared between the two groups. Significant variables were tested in multivariate models for association with lung cancer by using multiple logistic regression. Results: The emphysema index of percentage upper lung volume less than -950 HU had the strongest association with lung cancer (mean, 10.7% [standard deviation, 13.5] in patients vs 7.2% [standard deviation, 10.4] in control subjects; P < .001 ), but the relationship was weak(R 2 = 0.015, P < .001, c = 0.57). No CT measures of emphysema had an association with lung cancer independent of the patient medical history variables. Airway dimensions were not associated with lung cancer. Conclusion: Quantitative CT measurements of emphysema but not airway dimensions were only weakly associated with lung cancer, demonstrating no potential practical value for clinical risk stratification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)950-959
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2011


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