Research highlight

Imaging COPD phenotypes

Nature Medicine

October 8, 2012

An imaging technique that detects subtypes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is reported in a paper published online this week in Nature Medicine. This approach can provide a more accurate diagnosis and help tailor treatments for each individual to appropriately target the lung damage in COPD.

COPD is characterized by narrowing of the small airways in the lung and limiting airway flow and is not fully reversible. It is caused by lung tissue destruction, emphysema, or other functional diseases of the airways.

Brian Ross and colleagues developed an imaging biomarker that can help in differentiating between the types of disease found in the small airways, which previously could not be done with conventional physiological pulmonary tests. The authors created a computed tomography (CT)-based imaging biomarker that identifies COPD severity, phenotype, and location of disease by comparing inspiratory and expiratory CT scans on local variations in lung function.

doi: 10.1038/nm.2971

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