Background: Although lobar patterns of emphysema heterogeneity are indicative of optimal target sites for lung volume reduction (LVR) strategies, the presence of segmental, or sublobar, heterogeneity is often underappreciated. Objective: The aim of this study was to understand lobar and segmental patterns of emphysema heterogeneity, which may more precisely indicate optimal target sites for LVR procedures. Methods: Patterns of emphysema heterogeneity were evaluated in a representative cohort of 150 severe (GOLD stage III/IV) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients from the COPDGene study. High-resolution computerized tomography analysis software was used to measure tissue destruction throughout the lungs to compute heterogeneity (≥15% difference in tissue destruction) between (inter-) and within (intra-) lobes for each patient. Emphysema tissue destruction was characterized segmentally to define patterns of heterogeneity. Results: Segmental tissue destruction revealed interlobar heterogeneity in the left lung (57%) and right lung (52%). Intralobar heterogeneity was observed in at least one lobe of all patients. No patient presented true homogeneity at a segmental level. There was true homogeneity across both lungs in 3% of the cohort when defining heterogeneity as ≥30% difference in tissue destruction. Conclusion: Many LVR technologies for treatment of emphysema have focused on interlobar heterogeneity and target an entire lobe per procedure. Our observations suggest that a high proportion of patients with emphysema are affected by interlobar as well as intralobar heterogeneity. These findings prompt the need for a segmental approach to LVR in the majority of patients to treat only the most diseased segments and preserve healthier ones.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Computed tomography
- Lung volume reduction