MRI and CT lung biomarkers: Towards an in vivo understanding of lung biomechanics
Clinical Biomechanics (Bristol, Avon)
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BACKGROUND: The biomechanical properties of the lung are necessarily dependent on its structure and function, both of which are complex and change over time and space. This makes in vivo evaluation of lung biomechanics and a deep understanding of lung biomarkers, very challenging. In patients and animal models of lung disease, in vivo evaluations of lung structure and function are typically made at the mouth and include spirometry, multiple-breath gas washout tests and the forced oscillation technique. These techniques, and the biomarkers they provide, incorporate the properties of the whole organ system including the parenchyma, large and small airways, mouth, diaphragm and intercostal muscles. Unfortunately, these well-established measurements mask regional differences, limiting their ability to probe the lung's gross and micro-biomechanical properties which vary widely throughout the organ and its subcompartments. Pulmonary imaging has the advantage in providing regional, non-invasive measurements of healthy and diseased lung, in vivo. Here we summarize well-established and emerging lung imaging tools and biomarkers and how they may be used to generate lung biomechanical measurements.
METHODS: We review well-established and emerging lung anatomical, microstructural and functional imaging biomarkers generated using synchrotron x-ray tomographic-microscopy (SRXTM), micro-x-ray computed-tomography (micro-CT), clinical CT as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
FINDINGS: Pulmonary imaging provides measurements of lung structure, function and biomechanics with high spatial and temporal resolution. Imaging biomarkers that reflect the biomechanical properties of the lung are now being validated to provide a deeper understanding of the lung that cannot be achieved using measurements made at the mouth.
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