Virtual bronchoscopic navigation (VBN) guidance to peripheral pulmonary lesions is often limited by insufficient segmentation of the peripheral airways.
To test the effect of applying positive airway pressure (PAP) during CT acquisition to improve segmentation, particularly at end-expiration.
CT acquisitions in inspiration and expiration with 4 PAP protocols were recorded prospectively and compared to baseline inspiratory acquisitions in 20 patients. The 4 protocols explored differences between devices (flow vs. turbine), exposures (within seconds vs. 15-min) and pressure levels (10 vs. 14 cmH2O). Segmentation quality was evaluated with the number of airways and number of endpoints reached. A generalized mixed-effects model explored the estimated effect of each protocol.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS:
Patient characteristics and lung function did not significantly differ between protocols. Compared to baseline inspiratory acquisitions, expiratory acquisitions after 15 min of 14 cmH2O PAP segmented 1.63-fold more airways (95% CI 1.07-2.48; p = 0.018) and reached 1.34-fold more endpoints (95% CI 1.08-1.66; p = 0.004). Inspiratory acquisitions performed immediately under 10 cmH2O PAP reached 1.20-fold (95% CI 1.09-1.33; p < 0.001) more endpoints; after 15 min the increase was 1.14-fold (95% CI 1.05-1.24; p < 0.001).
CT acquisitions with PAP segment more airways and reach more endpoints than baseline inspiratory acquisitions. The improvement is particularly evident at end-expiration after 15 min of 14 cmH2O PAP. Further studies must confirm that the improvement increases diagnostic yield when using VBN to evaluate peripheral pulmonary lesions.
Keywords: Multidetector computed tomography; Bronchoscopy; Continuous positive airway pressure; Image enhancement; Virtual bronchoscopic navigation