CT-based visual classification of emphysema: Association with mortality in the COPDGene study

Genetic Epidemiology of COPD (COPDGene) Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine whether visually assessed patterns of emphysema at CT might provide a simple assessment of mortality risk among cigarette smokers. Materials and Methods: Of the first 4000 cigarette smokers consecutively enrolled between 2007 and 2011 in this COPDGene study, 3171 had data available for both visual emphysema CT scores and survival. Each CT scan was retrospectively visually scored by two analysts using the Fleischner Society classification system. Severity of emphysema was also evaluated quantitatively by using percentage lung volume occupied by low-attenuation areas (voxels with attenuation of 2950 HU or less) (LAA-950). Median duration of follow-up was 7.4 years. Regression analysis for the relationship between imaging patterns and survival was based on the Cox proportional hazards model, with adjustment for age, race, sex, height, weight, pack-years of cigarette smoking, current smoking status, educational level, LAA-950, and (in a second model) forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1). Results: Observer agreement in visual scoring was good (weighted k values, 0.71-0.80). There were 519 deaths in the study cohort. Compared with subjects who did not have visible emphysema, mortality was greater in those with any grade of emphysema beyond trace (adjusted hazard ratios, 1.7, 2.5, 5.0, and 4.1, respectively, for mild centrilobular emphysema, moderate centrilobular emphysema, confluent emphysema, and advanced destructive emphysema, P , .001). This increased mortality generally persisted after adjusting for LAA-950. Conclusion: The visual presence and severity of emphysema is associated with significantly increased mortality risk, independent of the quantitative severity of emphysema.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-866
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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