Correlation of lung function with ultra-low-dose CT-detected lung parenchymal abnormalities: a cohort study of 1344 asbestos exposed individuals

Fraser Brims, Edward Ja Harris, Chellan Kumarasamy, Amie Ringuet, Brendan Adler, Peter Franklin, Nick de Klerk, Bill Musk, Conor Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Deliberate exposure to medical ionising radiation should be as low as reasonably practicable but the reduction of radiation from CT should be balanced against diagnostic image quality. The ability of ultra-low-dose CT (uLDCT: similar radiation to chest X-ray) to demonstrate low contrast abnormalities (emphysema and interstitial lung abnormality (ILA)) is unclear. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to analyse the lung parenchymal findings from uLDCT scans against physiological measures of respiratory function. METHODS: WA Asbestos Review Programme participants were eligible if they had an uLDCT scan and lung function assessment between January and December 2018. All scans were performed using a single CT machine and reported using a standardised, semiquantitative synoptic report which includes emphysema and linear fibrosis (ILA) scores. RESULTS: Of 1344 participants, median (IQR) age was 72.0 (65.0-78.0) years, the majority were males (84.9%) with mixed occupational asbestos exposure (68.1%). There were 721 (53.6%) with no abnormality, 158 (11.8%) with emphysema, 465 (34.6%) with ILA. Mean radiation dose was 0.12 mSv. There was statistically significant between group differences for all physiological parameters of lung function compared with controls. For instance, the emphysema score significantly correlated with obstructive forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1)/forced vital capacity ratio (r=0.512), per cent predicted FEV1 (r=0.24) and lower diffusion of carbon monoxide (DLCO) (r=0.337). Multivariate modelling demonstrated that increasing age, emphysema and fibrosis scores predicted reduced DLCO (adjusted R2=0.30). DISCUSSION: uLDCT-detected parenchymal lung abnormalities correlate strongly with significant changes on lung function testing suggesting the observed CT abnormalities are of physiological and clinical significance.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001366
Pages (from-to)1-6
JournalBMJ Open Respiratory Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2022


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