Pulmonary Vascular Remodeling in Smokers

Raul San Jose Estepar

Raúl San José Estépar, PhD

Co-Director, Applied Chest Imaging Laboratory
Lead Investigator, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Associate Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School
Raúl is co-director of the Applied Chest Imaging Laboratory, lead scientist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Associate Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School. 
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Wells MJ, Iyer AS, Rahaghi FN, Bhatt SP, Gupta H, Denney TS, Lloyd SG, Dell'Italia LJ, Nath H, Estepar RSJ, Washko GR, Dransfield MT. Pulmonary artery enlargement is associated with right ventricular dysfunction and loss of blood volume in small pulmonary vessels in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Circ Cardiovasc Imaging 2015;8(4)Abstract
BACKGROUND: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease causes significant morbidity and concomitant pulmonary vascular disease and cardiac dysfunction are associated with poor prognosis. Computed tomography-detected relative pulmonary artery (PA) enlargement defined as a PA to ascending aorta diameter ratio >1 (PA:A>1) is a marker for pulmonary hypertension and predicts chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations. However, little is known about the relationship between the PA:A ratio, pulmonary blood volume, and cardiac function. METHODS AND RESULTS: A single-center prospective cohort study of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was conducted. Clinical characteristics and computed tomography metrics, including the PA:A and pulmonary blood vessel volume, were measured. Ventricular functions, volumes, and dimensions were measured by cine cardiac MRI with 3-dimensional analysis. Linear regression examined the relationships between clinical characteristics, computed tomography and cardiac MRI metrics, and 6-minute walk distance. Twenty-four patients were evaluated and those with PA:A>1 had higher right ventricular (RV) end-diastolic and end-systolic volume indices accompanied by lower RV ejection fraction (52±7% versus 60±9%; P=0.04). The PA:A correlated inversely with total intraparenchymal pulmonary blood vessel volume and the volume of distal vessels with a cross-sectional area of <5 mm(2). Lower forced expiratory volume, PA:A>1, and hyperinflation correlated with reduced RV ejection fraction. Both PA diameter and reduced RV ejection fraction were independently associated with reduced 6-minute walk distance. CONCLUSIONS: The loss of blood volume in distal pulmonary vessels is associated with PA enlargement on computed tomography. Cardiac MRI detects early RV dysfunction and remodeling in nonsevere chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients with a PA:A>1. Both RV dysfunction and PA enlargement are independently associated with reduced walk distance. CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT00608764.
San José Estépar R, Kinney GL, Black-Shinn JL, Bowler RP, Kindlmann GL, Ross JC, Kikinis R, Han MLK, Come CE, Diaz AA, Cho MH, Hersh CP, Schroeder JD, Reilly JJ, Lynch DA, Crapo JD, Wells MJ, Dransfield MT, Hokanson JE, Washko GR. Computed tomographic measures of pulmonary vascular morphology in smokers and their clinical implications. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2013;188(2):231-9.Abstract
RATIONALE: Angiographic investigation suggests that pulmonary vascular remodeling in smokers is characterized by distal pruning of the blood vessels. OBJECTIVES: Using volumetric computed tomography scans of the chest we sought to quantitatively evaluate this process and assess its clinical associations. METHODS: Pulmonary vessels were automatically identified, segmented, and measured. Total blood vessel volume (TBV) and the aggregate vessel volume for vessels less than 5 mm(2) (BV5) were calculated for all lobes. The lobe-specific BV5 measures were normalized to the TBV of that lobe and the nonvascular tissue volume (BV5/T(issue)V) to calculate lobe-specific BV5/TBV and BV5/T(issue)V ratios. Densitometric measures of emphysema were obtained using a Hounsfield unit threshold of -950 (%LAA-950). Measures of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease severity included single breath measures of diffusing capacity of carbon monoxide, oxygen saturation, the 6-minute-walk distance, St George's Respiratory Questionnaire total score (SGRQ), and the body mass index, airflow obstruction, dyspnea, and exercise capacity (BODE) index. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: The %LAA-950 was inversely related to all calculated vascular ratios. In multivariate models including age, sex, and %LAA-950, lobe-specific measurements of BV5/TBV were directly related to resting oxygen saturation and inversely associated with both the SGRQ and BODE scores. In similar multivariate adjustment lobe-specific BV5/T(issue)V ratios were inversely related to resting oxygen saturation, diffusing capacity of carbon monoxide, 6-minute-walk distance, and directly related to the SGRQ and BODE. CONCLUSIONS: Smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is characterized by distal pruning of the small blood vessels (<5 mm(2)) and loss of tissue in excess of the vasculature. The magnitude of these changes predicts the clinical severity of disease.
Ross JC, Kindlmann GL, Okajima Y, Hatabu H, Díaz AA, Silverman EK, Washko GR, Dy J, San José Estépar R. Pulmonary lobe segmentation based on ridge surface sampling and shape model fitting. Med Phys 2013;40(12):121903.Abstract
PURPOSE: Performing lobe-based quantitative analysis of the lung in computed tomography (CT) scans can assist in efforts to better characterize complex diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). While airways and vessels can help to indicate the location of lobe boundaries, segmentations of these structures are not always available, so methods to define the lobes in the absence of these structures are desirable. METHODS: The authors present a fully automatic lung lobe segmentation algorithm that is effective in volumetric inspiratory and expiratory computed tomography (CT) datasets. The authors rely on ridge surface image features indicating fissure locations and a novel approach to modeling shape variation in the surfaces defining the lobe boundaries. The authors employ a particle system that efficiently samples ridge surfaces in the image domain and provides a set of candidate fissure locations based on the Hessian matrix. Following this, lobe boundary shape models generated from principal component analysis (PCA) are fit to the particles data to discriminate between fissure and nonfissure candidates. The resulting set of particle points are used to fit thin plate spline (TPS) interpolating surfaces to form the final boundaries between the lung lobes. RESULTS: The authors tested algorithm performance on 50 inspiratory and 50 expiratory CT scans taken from the COPDGene study. Results indicate that the authors' algorithm performs comparably to pulmonologist-generated lung lobe segmentations and can produce good results in cases with accessory fissures, incomplete fissures, advanced emphysema, and low dose acquisition protocols. Dice scores indicate that only 29 out of 500 (5.85%) lobes showed Dice scores lower than 0.9. Two different approaches for evaluating lobe boundary surface discrepancies were applied and indicate that algorithm boundary identification is most accurate in the vicinity of fissures detectable on CT. CONCLUSIONS: The proposed algorithm is effective for lung lobe segmentation in absence of auxiliary structures such as vessels and airways. The most challenging cases are those with mostly incomplete, absent, or near-absent fissures and in cases with poorly revealed fissures due to high image noise. However, the authors observe good performance even in the majority of these cases.