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A novel gelatinized barium sulfate injection method for assessment of bronchoalveolar lavage parameters.

INTRODUCTION: Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) is frequently used in pulmonary medicine though it requires further optimization. Practical obstacles such as patient safety and procedural limitation have to date precluded large, controlled trials aimed at standardization of BAL procedure. Indeed, BAL guidelines are based on observational data. Innovative research methods are necessary to advance the clinical practice of BAL.

METHODS: In our study, we evaluated the effect of injecting a gelatinized barium solution into different lobes and segments of cadaveric lungs. As the technique requires an irreversible injection into lung airspaces, it is not suitable for in vivo purposes. We measured the volume returned from BAL as well as the distribution of BAL injection via dissection. Segmental anatomic orientation was compared to a radiologist's impression of plain film radiographs taken of injected lungs.

RESULTS: Mean injected volume distributions were greatest in the upper lobes and lowest in the lower lobes; mean ratios of injected volume distribution to lung lobe volume also followed this trend. Cannulated bronchi orders favored lower branches in the upper lobe and higher branches in the lower lobes. Segmental anatomy varied by the lung lobe injected and was most varied in the lower lobes.

CONCLUSION: This novel gelatinized-barium injection technique provides a minimally complex method to yield clinically meaningful feedback on the performance of BAL. The technique is also adaptable to study of procedural parameters in the context of variable lung anatomies and pathologies.

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