Background Emphysema and small airway disease both contribute to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a disease characterised by accelerated decline in lung function. The association between the extent of emphysema in male current and former smokers and lung function decline was investigated. Methods Current and former heavy smokers participating in a lung cancer screening trial were recruited to the study and all underwent CT. Spirometry was performed at baseline and at 3-year follow-up. The 15th percentile (Perc15) was used to assess the severity of emphysema. Results 2085 men of mean age 59.8 years participated in the study. Mean (SD) baseline Perc15 was -934.9 (19.5) HU. A lower Perc15 value correlated with a lower forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV(1)) at baseline (r=0.12, p<0.001). Linear mixed model analysis showed that a lower Perc15 was significantly related to a greater decline in FEV(1) after follow-up (p<0.001). Participants without baseline airway obstruction who developed it after follow-up had significantly lower mean (SD) Perc15 values at baseline than those who did not develop obstruction (-934.2 (17.1) HU vs -930.2 (19.7) HU, p<0.001). Conclusion Greater baseline severity of CT-detected emphysema is related to lower baseline lung function and greater rates of lung function decline, even in those without airway obstruction. CT-detected emphysema aids in identifying non-obstructed male smokers who will develop airflow obstruction.
CT-quantified emphysema in male heavy smokers: association with lung function decline
F. Mohamed Hoesein, B. de Hoop, P. Zanen, H. Gietema, C. Kruitwagen, B. van Ginneken, I. Išgum, C. Mol, R. van Klaveren, A. Dijkstra, H. Groen, H. Boezen, D. Postma, M. Prokop and J. Lammers