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Postmortem assessment of chronic airways obstruction by tantalum bronchography.
  1. K W Scott,
  2. G M Steiner


    Tantalum bronchography was performed on 22 left lungs obtained at necropsy. Seven were from patients dying in cor pulmonale as a result of chronic airways obstruction and 15 were from unselected necropsies. Of the latter group, nine had no evidence of respiratory disease and six had pathological changes of emphysema and bronchial mucous gland enlargement when the lungs were examined following formalin fixation. A range of changes in the bronchographic appearances from the normal to the groosly abnormal is illustrated. The main changes in severely diseases lungs were: irregularity of the bronchial walls, failure of the walls to taper towards the periphery, areas of narrowing and dilatation, and 'pooling' of tantalum at the ends of airways. A count was made of the numbers of small airway branches in the most distal 4 cm of the lung and also of the number of airways of less than 1 mm in diameter. Patients dying in cor pulmonale had a significantly reduced total number of patent small airways in the area measured and also fewer patent airways of less than 1 mm diameter compared to both the other groups. Histological study of four of the lungs in greater detail revealed that the reduction in small airways filling was the result of a combination of obliteration and obstruction of the lumen by pus. Tantalum bronchography provides a good indication of the state of the bronchial tree at the time of death, and the changes seen are the result of both acute and chronic disease processes.

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