Obtaining information on transplanted lung microstructure is an important part of the current care for monitoring transplant recipients. However, until now this information was only available from invasive lung biopsy. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of an innovative non-invasive technique, in vivo lung morphometry with hyperpolarized ³He MRI—to characterize lung microstructure in the pediatric lung transplant population. This technique yields quantitative measurements of acinar airways’ (alveolar ducts and sacs) parameters, such as acinar airway radii and alveolar depth. Six pediatric lung transplant recipients with cystic fibrosis underwent in vivo lung morphometry MRI, pulmonary function testing, and quantitative CT. We found a strong correlation between lung lifespan and alveolar depth—patients with more shallow alveoli were likely to have a negative outcome sooner than those with larger alveolar depth. Combining morphometric results with CT, we also determined mean alveolar wall thickness and found substantial increases in this parameter in some patients that negatively correlated with DLCO. In vivo lung morphometry uniquely provides previously unavailable information on lung microstructure that may be predictive of a negative outcome and has a potential to aid in lung selection for transplantation.
- acinar airways
- diffusion magnetic resonance imaging
- hyperpolarized gas magnetic resonance imaging
- in vivo lung morphometry
- lung transplantation