What is the role of nuclear imaging in the workup of emphysema?

Updated: Mar 13, 2019
  • Author: Ali Nawaz Khan, MBBS, FRCS, FRCP, FRCR; Chief Editor: Eugene C Lin, MD  more...
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Functional evaluation of the lungs can be carried out by using xenon-133 (133Xe) lung ventilation scintigraphy before and after lung-volume–reduction surgery (LVRS) in patients with pulmonary emphysema.

Xenon-133 washout curves during lung scintigraphy exhibit a biphasic pattern [49, 50]

  • The first component of the washout curve, m(r), corresponds to an initial rapid phase in washout that reflects emptying of the large airways.
  • The second component, m(s), reflects a slower phase of washout that is attributed to gas elimination in the small airways.

Radionuclide ventilation scans enable a useful assessment of lung function before and after LVRS. Travaline et al [51] demonstrated that small-airway ventilation in lung regions that were surgically treated, as well as in those areas that were not surgically treated, in the same patient were associated with increased improvement in lung function after LVRS.

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