Differentiating combined pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema from pure emphysema: utility of late gadolinium-enhanced MRI

Hannah Fleming, Simon M. Clifford, Aoife Haughey, Roisin MacDermott, Niall McVeigh, Gerard M. Healy, Lisa Lavelle, Suhny Abbara, David J. Murphy, Aurelie Fabre, Edward McKone, Cormac McCarthy, Marcus Butler, Peter Doran, David A. Lynch, Michael P. Keane, Jonathan D. Dodd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Differentiating combined pulmonary fibrosis with emphysema (CPFE) from pure emphysema can be challenging on high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT). This has antifibrotic therapy implications. Methods: Twenty patients with suspected CPFE underwent late gadolinium-enhanced (LGE) thoracic magnetic resonance imaging (LGE-MRI) and HRCT. Data from twelve healthy control subjects from a previous study who underwent thoracic LGE-MRI were included for comparison. Quantitative LGE signal intensity (SI) was retrospectively compared in regions of fibrosis and emphysema in CPFE patients to similar lung regions in controls. Qualitative comparisons for the presence/extent of reticulation, honeycombing, and traction bronchiectasis between LGE-MRI and HRCT were assessed by two readers in consensus. Results: There were significant quantitative differences in fibrosis SI compared to emphysema SI in CPFE patients (25.8, IQR 18.4–31.0 versus 5.3, IQR 5.0–8.1, p < 0.001). Significant differences were found between LGE-MRI and HRCT in the extent of reticulation (12.5, IQR 5.0–20.0 versus 25.0, IQR 15.0–26.3, p = 0.038) and honeycombing (5.0, IQR 0.0–10.0 versus 20.0, IQR 10.6–20.0, p = 0.001) but not traction bronchiectasis (10.0, IQR 5–15 versus 15.0, IQR 5–15, p = 0.878). Receiver operator curve analysis of fibrosis SI compared to similarly located regions in control subjects showed an area under the curve of 0.82 (p = 0.002). A SI cutoff of 19 yielded a sensitivity of 75% and specificity of 86% in differentiating fibrosis from similarly located regions in control subjects. Conclusion: LGE-MRI can differentiate CPFE from pure emphysema and may be a useful adjunct test to HRCT in patients with suspected CPFE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number61
JournalEuropean radiology experimental
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Bronchiectasis
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Pulmonary emphysema
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Tomography (x-ray computed)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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