Imaging techniques allow researchers to have detailed images of the lungs and airways and can be obtained from a number of investigations:
A chest X-ray allows close examination of the lungs and chest wall. Chest x-rays involve expose to a minimum amount of radiation.
A DEXA scan is used to measure what the body is made up of (body composition). It measures the proportion of muscle, fat and bone density in the body. A DEXA scan does involve exposure to radiation that is equivalent to radiation from less than 1/10th of a chest x-ray.
A CT scan is a type of X-ray examination that gives much more information than a normal X-ray. Therefore a CT scan does involve exposure to radiation. It produces detailed images of the lungs, breathing passages and blood vessels. The scanner itself is shaped like a large donut and is not enclosed.
An MRI scan uses a powerful magnet and a computer to produce detailed images of any part of the body. In our research we are looking particularly at the lungs. An MRI scan is capable of obtaining new, detailed information of how the lung functions, such as how the air flows (airflow), how the lung is ventilated (ventilation), how the oxygen is passed from the lungs to the blood (gas diffusivity) and how oxygen is absorbed into the blood (oxygenation).
An MRI scan does not involve X-rays but this technique does sometimes involve inhaling some types of gases, such as Helium and Xenon, which is completely harmless. An MRI Scan involves lying on a scan table and being moved slowly into the scanner, which is shaped like a tube. An MRI scan takes approximately 60 minutes in total.