To determine whether endoscopic laser treatment improves both ventilation and perfusion in patients with advanced lung cancer, krypton-81m ventilation and technetium-99m labelled macro-aggregate perfusion scanning was performed immediately before and two or four days after treatment in a consecutive series of 28 patients. Twelve patients had not received any other treatment before laser therapy and 16 had undergone previous treatments that included radiotherapy. Ventilation and perfusion were quantified by expressing the number of counts in the affected lung as a percentage of the total counts. Ventilation and perfusion improved after laser treatment in 23 patients (82%). The mean ventilation score in the affected lung rose by 50% (p less than 0.001) and the mean perfusion score rose by 24% (p less than 0.001). Incremental changes in ventilation and perfusion scores were positively correlated (r = 0.80). Mean spirometric values, six minute walking distance, the Karnofsky performance index, and breathlessness and wellbeing scores also improved significantly. Patients with main bronchial obstruction who had had no radiotherapy showed the most striking improvements. It is concluded that the removal of intraluminal tumour from the bronchial tree leads to matched improvements in ventilation and perfusion in most patients and that this is associated with valuable improvement in symptoms.
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