What is the role of imaging studies in the evaluation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

Updated: Nov 13, 2020
  • Author: Paul Kleinschmidt, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

Chronic bronchitis is associated with increased bronchovascular markings and cardiomegaly.

Emphysema is associated with a small heart, hyperinflation, flat hemidiaphragms, and possible bullous changes. Typical findings are shown in the radiographs below.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A lu Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A lung with emphysema shows increased anteroposterior (AP) diameter, increased retrosternal airspace, and flattened diaphragms on lateral chest radiograph.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A lu Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A lung with emphysema shows increased anteroposterior (AP) diameter, increased retrosternal airspace, and flattened diaphragms on posteroanterior chest radiograph.
Posteroanterior (PA) and lateral chest radiograph Posteroanterior (PA) and lateral chest radiograph in a patient with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Hyperinflation, depressed diaphragms, increased retrosternal space, and hypovascularity of lung parenchyma is demonstrated.
Subcutaneous emphysema and pneumothorax. Subcutaneous emphysema and pneumothorax.

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