Comparison of dynamic expiratory CT with bronchoscopy for diagnosing airway malacia: A pilot evaluation

Karen S. Lee, Maryellen R.M. Sun, Armin Ernst, David Feller-Kopman, Adnan Majid, Phillip M. Boiselle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the accuracy of dynamic expiratory CT for detecting airway malacia using bronchoscopy as the diagnostic "gold standard." Materials and methods: A computerized hospital information system was used to retrospectively identify all patients with bronchoscopically proven airway malacia referred for CT airway imaging at our institution during a 19-month period. CT was performed within I week of bronchoscopy. All patients were scanned with a standard protocol, including end-inspiratory and dynamic expiratory volumetric imaging, using an eight-detector multislice helical CT scanner. For both CT and bronchoscopy, malacia was defined as ≥ 50% expiratory reduction of the airway lumen. CT and bronchoscopic findings were subsequently jointly reviewed by the radiologist and bronchoscopist for concordance. Results: Twenty-nine patients (12 men and 17 women; mean age, 60 years; range, 36 to 79 years) comprised the study cohort. CT correctly diagnosed malacia in 28 of 29 patients (97%). The most common presenting symptoms were dyspnea in 20 patients (69%), severe or persistent cough in 16 patients (55%), and recurrent infection in 7 patients (24%). The estimated radiation dose (expressed as dose-length product) for the dual-phase study is 508 mGy-cm, which is comparable to a routine chest CT. Conclusion: Dynamic expiratory CT is a highly sensitive method for detecting airway malacia and has the potential to serve as an effective, noninvasive test for diagnosing this condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)758-764
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Airway
  • Bronchomalacia
  • CT
  • Malacia
  • Tracheobronchomalacia
  • Tracheomalacia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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