An attempt was made to determine if emphysema and static lung recoil were related in a group of 65 excised human lungs. We studied 23 normal lungs, 24 lungs with an emphysema score of 5 or less, and 18 lungs with an emphysema score greater than 5. A comparison of the percentage of predicted elastic recoil revealed that both emphysema groups were significantly different from normal lungs. In addition, the total lung capacities were significantly different between the three groups. In the group with an emphysema score greater than 5 we found a linear negative correlation between the extent of emphysema and percent of predicted elastic recoil at 90% total lung capacity (r = -0.696, p < 0.01). We found a negative correlation between the percentage of predicted elastic recoil and the lung volume (r = -0.612, p < 0.01). We conclude that a significant loss of elastic recoil and a significant increase in total lung capacity occurs in the early stages of emphysema.
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