BACKGROUND: Bronchoscopic lung volume reduction using endobronchial valves (EBV) has been shown to be beneficial for severe emphysema patients. The most important predictor of treatment response is absence of collateral ventilation between the treatment target and ipsilateral lobe. However, there are still a substantial number of nonresponders and it would be useful to improve the pre-treatment identification of responders. Presumably, predictors of response will be multifactorial, and therefore our aim was to explore whether we can identify response groups using a cluster analysis.
METHODS: At baseline and 1 year follow-up, pulmonary function, exercise capacity and quality of life were measured. A quantitative chest computed tomography scan analysis was performed at baseline and 2-6 months follow-up. The cluster analysis was performed using a hierarchical agglomerative method.
RESULTS: In total, 428 patients (69% female, mean±sd age 61±8 years, forced expiratory volume in 1 s 27±8% predicted, residual volume 254±50% pred) were included in our analysis. Three clusters were generated: one nonresponder cluster and two responder clusters. Despite solid technical procedures, the nonresponder cluster had significantly less clinical response after treatment compared to the other clusters. The nonresponder cluster was characterised by significantly less emphysematous destruction, less air trapping and a higher perfusion of the target lobe, and a more homogeneous distribution of emphysema and perfusion between the target and ipsilateral lobe.
CONCLUSIONS: We found that target lobe characteristics are the discriminators between responders and nonresponders, which underlines the importance of visual and quantitative assessment of the potential treatment target lobe when selecting patients for EBV treatment.