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CT Proposed For Monitoring Severe Asthma

June 16, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Chest Radiology, Diagnostic Imaging
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CT scans might work well for monitoring the progress of severe asthma and checking on how it’s responding to treatment, according to preliminary results of a new study led by University of Leicester researchers in England.

“Asthma is a major health problem affecting 300 million people worldwide,” said Sumit Gupta, MBBS, a postgraduate student at the university. Dr. Gupta and colleagues at the Institute for Lung Health and Radiology Department at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester have been studying the use of CT in relation to severe asthma.

“Approximately half a million people in UK suffer from severe asthma and are, as a consequence, at increased risk of asthma attacks, hospitalization, and death, and often have severely impaired quality of life,” Dr. Gupta said. “Structural changes that occur in airways of asthmatic individuals remain difficult to quantify and monitor. Computed tomography scans have now emerged as a noninvasive research tool to assess these airway structural changes.”

Dr. Gupta and his colleagues have been looking at airway thickness, as measured by CT. Thicker airway walls are associated with worsening of lung function and inflammation of the airways. A novel therapy that suppressed airway inflammation resulted in reductions in both airway-wall thickness and asthma attacks among patients with severe asthma.

Chris Brightling, honorary consultant at the Institute for Lung Health and leader of this study, said, “Ability to objectively quantify different structural changes in asthma using CT may assist in differentiating various disease sub-types and help deliver personalized health care.”

Preliminary results of the study are scheduled to be presented June 24 at the University of Leicester’s Festival of Postgraduate Research. A university news release about the study didn’t address the risks of radiation exposure from the CT scans. However, patients with severe asthma obviously are more immediately concerned with being able to breathe than with radiation side effects that are not likely to manifest themselves for years, if at all.

Related seminar: Abdominal & Thoracic CT/MR/US: Optimizing Practice


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