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Normal age-related quantitative CT values in the pediatric lung: from the first breath to adulthood

      Highlights

      • Age, sex, and height are predictors of quantitative CT parameters in children
      • Lung density decreases linearly, but lung volume and mass increase exponentially
      • As children grow, density histogram shows a right-skewed distribution

      Abstract

      Objective

      To characterize the normal progression of quantitative CT parameters in normal children from birth to adulthood.

      Materials and methods

      Patients aged 0–18 years with non-contrast-enhanced chest CT and evidence of normal lung parenchyma were included. Patients with respiratory symptoms, incomplete anthropometric measurements, or sub-optimal imaging technique were excluded. Segmentation was performed using an open-source software with an automated threshold segmentation. The following parameters were obtained: mean lung density, kurtosis, skewness, lung volume, and mass. Linear and exponential regression models were calculated with age and height as independent variables. A p-value of <0.05 was considered significant.

      Results

      220 patients (111 females, 109 males) were included. Mean age was 9.6 ± 5.9 years and mean height was 133.9 ± 35.1 cm. Simple linear regression showed a significant relationship between mean lung density with age (R 2 = 0.70) and height (R 2 = 0.73). Kurtosis displayed a significant exponential correlation with age (R 2 = 0.70) and height (R 2 = 0.71). Skewness showed a significant exponential correlation with age (R 2 = 0.71) and height (R 2 = 0.73). Lung mass showed a correlation with age (R 2 = 0.93) and height (R 2 = 0.92). Exponential regression showed a significant relationship between lung volume with age (R 2 = 0.88) and height (R 2 = 0.93).

      Conclusion

      Quantitative CT parameters of the lung parenchyma demonstrate changes from birth to adulthood. As children grow, the mean lung density decreases, and the lung parenchyma becomes more homogenous.

      Keywords

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