Utility of Computed Tomography in a Differential Diagnosis for the Patients with an Initial Diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Exacerbation.


Department of Radiology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. [Email]


BACKGROUND : The utility of computed tomography (CT) in the differential diagnosis of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbation remains uncertain. However, due to the low cost associated with CT scan along with the impact of Koreas' health insurance system, there has been a rise in the number of CT scans in the patients with initial diagnosis of COPD exacerbations. Therefore, the utility of CT in the differential diagnosis was investigated to determine whether performing CT scans affect the clinical outcomes of the patients with an initial diagnosis of COPD exacerbation.
METHODS : This study involved 202 COPD patients hospitalized with an initial diagnosis of COPD exacerbation. We evaluated the change in diagnosis or treatment after performing a CT scan, and compared the clinical outcomes of patient groups with vs. without performing CT (non-CT group vs. CT group).
RESULTS : After performing CT, the diagnosis was changed for two (3.0%) while additional diagnoses were made for 27 of the 64 patients (42.1%). However, the treatment changed for only one (1.5%), and six patients (9.3%) received supplementary medication. There were no difference in the median length of hospital stay (8 [6-13] days vs. 8 [6-12] days, p=0.786) and intensive care unit care (14 [10.1%] vs. 11 [16.7%], p=0.236) between the CT and non-CT groups, respectively. These findings remained consistent even after the propensity score matching.
CONCLUSIONS : Utility of CT in patients with acute COPD exacerbation might not be helpful; therefore, we do not recommend chest CT scan as a routine initial diagnostic tool.


Disease Exacerbation,Hospitalization,Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive,Tomography, X-Ray Computed,