However, it has been difficult for physicians to identify abnormalities of the small airways non-invasively; the tiny bronchioles that are first damaged in COPD, which are less than 2 mm in internal diameter, are simply too small to be visualized on CT imaging, and are not well-reflected by pulmonary function tests.
In a landmark study funded by the NHLBI, an international team of researchers led by Michigan Medicine confirmed the ability of a non-invasive imaging biomarker to identify small airway damage in COPD.
Journal - Respiratory - Critical - Care - Medicine
In the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the researchers report on the ability of a relatively new technique, called Parametric Response Mapping (PRM), to identify small airway abnormality in COPD. Invented at Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan's academic medical center, by Brian Ross, Ph.D., professor of radiology and biological chemistry and Craig Galban, Ph.D., associate professor of radiology, PRM is a non-invasive technique that measures lung density during inhalation and exhalation.
The team examined lung tissue from patients with COPD undergoing lung transplantation as well as those with healthy donated tissue. Researchers then mapped those samples back to the CT scans taken before surgery.
PRM - Loss - Obstruction - Feat - Collaboration
They confirmed that PRM was able to non-invasively identify small airway loss, narrowing and obstruction. This technical feat required the collaboration of large, multi-disciplinary teams of radiologists, pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons and pathologists in multiple locations across two countries, all activated around the clock due to the unpredictable nature of transplant surgery.
Senior author MeiLan Han, M.D., a lung specialist and professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, says, "Now we have confidence in our ability to...
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