Sixty-six subjects, mainly derived from various occupational groups and one-third of whom admitted to dyspnoea on exertion, have been grouped according to the appearance of their peripheral airways at bronchography with oily propyliodone. Eleven subjects showed marked peripheral pooling of radiographic contrast material, 22 showed mild or moderate pooling, and in 33 peripheral pools were absent. Pooling was not seen in non-smoking subjects. In the group of subjects without pooling, pulmonary function in non-smokers and subjects with a history of smoking was similar. Subjects with marked pooling had a significantly lower pulmonary diffusing capacity (transfer factor) and evidence of loss of pulmonary elastic recoil when compared with subjects with absent peripheral pooling. These results indicate that bronchographic peripheral pooling is associated with the physiological changes of panacinar pulmonary emphysema and suggest that a causal relationship may exist between the organic bronchiolar lesion of pooling and the peripheral parenchymal lesion of panacinar emphysema.
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