Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Biomedical Engineering


Dr. Grace Parraga


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality affecting at least 600 million people worldwide. The most widely used clinical measurements of lung function such as spirometry and plethysmography are generally accepted for diagnosis and monitoring of the disease. However, these tests provide only global measures of lung function and they are insensitive to early disease changes. Imaging tools that are currently available have the potential to provide regional information about lung structure and function but at present are mainly used for qualitative assessment of disease and disease progression. In this thesis, we focused on the application of quantitative measurements of lung structure derived from 1H magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and high resolution computed tomography (CT) in subjects diagnosed with COPD by a physician. Our results showed that significant and moderately strong relationship exists between 1H signal intensity (SI) and 3He apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), as well as between 1H SI and CT measurements of emphysema. This suggests that these imaging methods may be quantifying the same tissue changes in COPD, and that pulmonary 1H SI may be used effectively to monitor emphysema as a complement to CT and noble gas MRI. Additionally, our results showed that objective multi-threshold analysis of CT images for emphysema scoring that takes into account the frequency distribution of each Hounsfield unit (HU) threshold was effective in correctly classifying the patient into COPD and healthy subgroups. Finally, we found a significant correlation between whole lung average subjective and objective emphysema scores with high inter-observer agreement. It is concluded that 1H MRI and high resolution CT can be used to quantitatively evaluate lung tissue alterations in COPD subjects.