Oscillometry and pulmonary MRI measurements of ventilation heterogeneity in obstructive lung disease

May 6, 2020 / in Scientific articles / by Eve-Gabrielle Bissonnette


Ventilation heterogeneity is a hallmark finding in obstructive lung disease and may be evaluated using a variety of methods, including multiple-breath gas washout and pulmonary imaging. Such methods provide an opportunity to better understand the relationships between structural and functional abnormalities in the lungs, and their relationships with important clinical outcomes. We measured ventilation heterogeneity and respiratory impedance in 100 subjects [50 patients with asthma, 22 ex-smokers, and 28 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)] using oscillometry and hyperpolarized 3He magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and determined their relationships with quality of life scores and disease control/exacerbations. We also coregistered MRI ventilation maps to a computational airway tree model to generate patient-specific respiratory impedance predictions for comparison with experimental measurements. In COPD and asthma patients, respectively, forced oscillation technique (FOT)-derived peripheral resistance (5–19 Hz) and MRI ventilation defect percentage (VDP) were significantly related to quality of life (FOT: COPD ρ = 0.4, P = 0.004; asthma ρ = −0.3, P = 0.04; VDP: COPD ρ = 0.6, P = 0.003; asthma ρ = −0.3, P = 0.04). Patients with poorly controlled asthma (Asthmatic Control Questionnaire >2) had significantly increased resistance (5 Hz: P = 0.01; 5–19 Hz: P = 0.006) and reactance (5 Hz: P = 0.03). FOT-derived peripheral resistance (5–19 Hz) was significantly related to VDP in patients with asthma and COPD patients (asthma: ρ = 0.5, P < 0.001; COPD: ρ = 0.5, P = 0.01), whereas total respiratory impedance was related to VDP only in patients with asthma (resistance 5 Hz: ρ = 0.3, P = 0.02; reactance 5 Hz: ρ = −0.5, P < 0.001). Model-predicted and FOT-measured reactance (5 Hz) were correlated in patients with asthma (ρ = 0.5, P = 0.001), whereas in COPD patients, model-predicted and FOT-measured resistance (5–19 Hz) were correlated (ρ = 0.5, P = 0.004). In summary, in patients with asthma and COPD patients, we observed significant, independent relationships for FOT-measured impedance and MRI ventilation heterogeneity measurements with one another and with quality of life scores.

New & noteworthy

In 100 patients, including patients with asthma and ex-smokers, 3He MRI ventilation heterogeneity and respiratory system impedance were correlated and both were independently related to quality of life scores and asthma control. These findings demonstrated the critical relationships between respiratory system impedance and ventilation heterogeneity and their role in determining quality of life and disease control. These observations underscore the dominant role that abnormalities in the lung periphery play in ventilation heterogeneity that results in patients’ symptoms.


Asthma, COPD, forced oscillation technique, hyperpolarized 3He MRI, respiratory system impedance

Young HM, Guo F, Eddy RL, Maksym G, Parraga G. Oscillometry and pulmonary MRI measurements of ventilation heterogeneity in obstructive lung disease: relationship to quality of life and disease control. J Appl Physiol. 2018;125:73–85.


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