James D. Quirk1, Barbara A. Lutey2, Jason C. Woods1,3, Alexander L. Sukstanskii1, Mark S. Conradi, 1,3, Mario Castro2, David S. Gierada1, Dmitriy A. Yablonskiy1,3
1Radiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, United States; 2Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, United States; 3Physics, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, United States
In vivo lung morphometry with hyperpolarized helium-3 MRI is a sensitive method for detecting early emphysema and provides a unique insight into changes in the acinar microstructure. We utilized this technique to measure acinar geometrical parameters in 30 smokers and 5 healthy volunteers. Our results support the view that early emphysema progresses through dilation of alveolar ducts with retraction of alveolar walls. We also detected significant disease heterogeneity across the lung and suggest that these patterns can provide important insights into disease phenotypes and are valuable for monitoring disease progression and regression.