This study evaluated the accuracy of the interpretation of the chest film in delineating localised abnormalities of ventilation and perfusion, as well as the overall severity of airways obstruction, exercise tolerance, and clinical condition in children with cystic fibrosis. Radiographic findings in various regions of the chest film were compared with the functional values obtained with regional lung function tests which evaluated the arrival and disappearance of boluses of radioactive nitrogen given by inhalation and infusion. While the more severely affected areas on the chest radiograph were found to correlate with similar regions on the lung function tests, as did overall scores, errors occurred in some cases if the x-ray film alone was used as a judge of regional physiological derangement. In addition the degree of airways obstruction, the exercise tolerance on a cycle ergometer, and clinical grading, each correlated significantly with the radiographic score. We conclude that the chest radiograph is a good indicator of the overall severity of the lung disease and that it correlates well with exercise tolerance and clinical condition in cystic fibrosis.
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