Andrew Synn, M.D.

Andrew Synn, M.D.

Institution: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston

Project: New Chest Imaging Method to Detect Pulmonary Vascular Disease

Grant(s): Catalyst Award

Disease that affects the pulmonary vessels is common in individuals with chronic lung conditions but can difficult to detect without invasive procedures. Which may limit treatment options. This project will evaluate the use of chest imaging to detect abnormalities in the pulmonary vessels. The first objective of this project is to determine whether these abnormalities in the pulmonary vessels are associated with worse heart and lung function in generally healthy adults. The second objective is to determine whether abnormalities in the pulmonary vessels actually reflect disease-related changes at the microscopic level in patients who had lung biopsies. Together, these objectives will help determine whether this new chest imaging method can be used to help detect pulmonary vascular disease in patients who are at-risk without the need for an invasive procedure.


We are investigating whether a CT-based method of quantifying loss of the small pulmonary vessels (known as vascular pruning) could serve as a noninvasive screening biomarker of pulmonary vascular disease, particularly in its earlier stages.  Over the past year, our work on this Catalyst Award project has resulted in several exciting findings, including that individuals with more severe pruning on CT had worse right heart function on cardiac MRI and a higher risk of death. We also established a cohort of more than 130 patients for whom we have collecting tissue and imaging data for analysis.  We have published results from this project in the journal​ CHEST and the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, and have also presented our findings at international conferences.

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