Measuring Lung Vessel Tree Growth During Development in Pediatric Patients
Premature babies are often put on respirators due to their lack of lung development and functionality. However, there is not much data that specifically pinpoints when it is safe to take a child off a respirator. Therefore, the main focus question is: how does the pulmonary vasculature develop as the child grows and can we determine the exact time-point to take him/her off a respirator. In this study, Chest CT scans were retrospectively gathered from pediatric patients at different follow-up times from the UF Shands Pulmonary Care Pediatric Center from 2005-2012. In-house software built upon the NIH ImageJ platform was used to count blood vessels as a function of size in each patient’s lungs. Nine datasets were analyzed from subjects 1 week to 22 years of age. It was observed that the number of vessels increased as a patient aged however the data points were spread greatly, preventing our being able to make additional inferences. Limitations of this initial work include that often patients were scanned only in instances of lung infections which hinders the assessment of lung vasculature; the number of repeated scans per patient was low; and the image slice thickness and in-plane pixel resolution varied across scans, which affects vessels count. Future extensions of this work include selecting a larger cohort of subjects with multiple follow-ups and similar imaging parameters, along with an age-matched control group.
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