Quantifying tracheobronchial tree dimensions: Methods, limitations and emerging techniques
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The ability to measure airway dimensions is important for clinicians, interventional bronchoscopists and researchers in order to accurately quantify structural abnormalities and track their changes over time or in response to treatment. Most quantitative airway measurements are based on X-ray computed tomography and, more recently, on multidetector computed tomography. Quantitative bronchoscopic techniques have also been developed, although these are less widely employed. Emerging techniques, including magnetic resonance imaging, endoscopic optical coherence tomography, endobronchial ultrasound and confocal endomicroscopy, provide new research tools with potential clinical applications. An understanding of issues related to the acquisition, processing and analysis of images, and how such issues impact on imaging the tracheobronchial tree, is essential in order to assess measurement accuracy and to make effective use of the newer methods. This article contributes to this understanding by providing a comprehensive review of current and emerging techniques for quantifying airway dimensions. Copyright©ERS Journals Ltd 2009.
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