Table of Contents
Journal of Allergy
Volume 2012, Article ID 972479, 11 pages
Review Article

In Vivo Computed Tomography as a Research Tool to Investigate Asthma and COPD: Where Do We Stand?

1Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Imaging, CHU Bordeaux, Avenue de Magellan, 33604 Pessac, France
2Laboratory of Cellular Respiratory Physiology, Centre de Recherche Cardio-Thoracique de Bordeaux, INSERM U1045, University Bordeaux Segalen. 146, rue Léo Saignat, 33076 Bordeaux, France

Received 15 July 2011; Accepted 16 September 2011

Academic Editor: Georgia Hardavella

Copyright © 2012 Gaël Dournes et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Computed tomography (CT) is a clinical tool widely used to assess and followup asthma and chonic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in humans. Strong efforts have been made the last decade to improve this technique as a quantitative research tool. Using semiautomatic softwares, quantification of airway wall thickness, lumen area, and bronchial wall density are available from large to intermediate conductive airways. Skeletonization of the bronchial tree can be built to assess its three-dimensional geometry. Lung parenchyma density can be analysed as a surrogate of small airway disease and emphysema. Since resident cells involve airway wall and lung parenchyma abnormalities, CT provides an accurate and reliable research tool to assess their role in vivo. This litterature review highlights the most recent advances made to assess asthma and COPD with CT, and also their drawbacks and the place of CT in clarifying the complex physiopathology of both diseases.