Original Article

Quantative computerized tomography assessment of lung density as a predictor of postoperative pulmonary morbidity in patients with lung cancer

Tevfik Kaplan, Gokce Kaan Atac, Nesimi Gunal, Bulent Kocer, Aslıhan Alhan, Sezai Cubuk, Orhan Yucel, Ebru Ozan Sanhal, Koray Dural, Serdar Han


Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate the pulmonary reserve of the patients via preoperative quantitative computerized tomography (CT) and to determine if these preoperative quantitative measurements could predict the postoperative pulmonary morbidity.
Methods: Fifty patients with lung cancer who underwent lobectomy/segmentectomy were included in the study. Preoperative quantitative CT scans and pulmonary function tests data were evaluated retrospectively. We compare these measurements with postoperative morbidity.
Results: There were 32 males and 18 females with a mean age of 54.4±13.9 years. Mean total density was −790.6±73.4 HU. The volume of emphysematous lung was (<−900 HU) 885.2±1,378.4 cm3. Forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) (r=−0.494, P=0.02) and diffusion capacity of carbon monoxide (DLCO) (r=−0.643, P<0.001) were found to be correlate with the volume of emphysematous lung. Furthermore FEV1 (r=0.59, P<0.001) and DLCO (r=0.48, P<0.001) were also found to be correlate with mean lung density. Postoperative pulmonary morbidity was significantly higher in patients with lower lung density (P<0.001), larger volume of emphysema (P<0.001) and lower DLCO (P=0.039). A cut-off point of −787.5 HU for lung density showed 86.96% sensitivity and 81.48% specificity for predicting the pulmonary morbidity (kappa =−0.68, P<0.001). Additionally a cut-off point of 5.41% for emphysematous volume showed 84.00% sensitivity and 80.00% specificity for predicting the pulmonary morbidity (kappa =0.64, P<0.001). According to logistic regression analyses emphysematous volume >5.41% (P=0.014) and lung density <−787.5 HU (P=0.009) were independent prognostic factors associated with postoperative pulmonary morbidity.
Conclusions: In this study, the patients with a lower lung density than −787.5 HU and a higher volume of emphysema than 5.41% were found to be at increased risk for developing postoperative pulmonary morbidity. More stringent precautions should be taken in those patients that were found to be at high risk to avoid pulmonary complications.

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