Cardiothoracic Imaging

The Thoracic Imaging Division, formerly known as Chest Radiology, participates in a very active, high-volume and growing clinical service. Approximately 95,000 digital chest images and over 12,000 chest CT scans are performed annually, the latter increasing exponentially each year. The section is also responsible for a rapidly growing number of transthoracic needle biopsy procedures, of which approximately 200 are now performed yearly.

A variety of clinical chest-related imaging is performed, including computed radiographs (digital chest x-rays), CT scans, chest biopsies (including lung), and some cardiovascular imaging. In addition, the division conducts research in these areas, as well as MR imaging of the chest.

Thoracic Scan

Images of the lungs. The scan on the left was obtained during a full inspiration, and that on the right during a full expiration. These images reveal multiple localized areas of air trapping (the regions of the lungs that remain low density on expiration), as well as upper lobe fibrosis in this patient with sarcoidosis.

The division provides services to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine Radnor and parts of Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. The thoracic imagers have weekly conferences with groups that include physicians from pulmonary medicine, oncology, surgery, pathology, and others, as well as daily conferences with various intensive care units.

Chest imaging at Penn offers the latest in new functional imaging possibilities, new multi-dimensional image display and analysis tools, and better scanners.

Penn is a major site for functional lung imaging and researchers are working to develop hyperpolarized gas imaging of the lungs. Another functional technique is being developed to study optical flow imaging to help assess changes in the lungs over time. Currently used to study lung nodules, researchers at Penn hope to identify and quantify regions of abnormal function and subsequently the disease progression, or improvement with treatment. This can be applied to studies of emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary embolism, and the evaluation of transplant or lung volume reduction surgery.