Computed tomography and cystic fibrosis: promises and problems

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Computed tomography (CT) has two potential roles in the evaluation of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease: as a diagnostic test primarily for the detection of supervening complications and as a monitoring tool in clinical research. Interest in the latter role has gained momentum in the last 5 years because of two factors: (1) therapeutic options for CF lung disease are developing rapidly, hence the need for an outcome measure that can be applied in clinical intervention trials; and (2) it has become clear that traditional outcome measures such as pulmonary function tests are relatively insensitive to the early structural damage that occurs in CF. Several recent studies have shown that CT can be used as a potential surrogate outcome measure, although its suitability for this specific role is controversial and still under investigation. This review summarises current concepts relating to the research applications of CT in CF, with particular emphasis on the evidence supporting the use of CT as a surrogate outcome measure in clinical trials.

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