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What Is Distal Acinar Emphysema?

What Is Distal Acinar Emphysema?


At its anatomical core, emphysema is the result of a deadly one-two combination: an enlargement of the acinus, the portion of the lungs that filters out carbon monoxide and other gases, and a reduction in the volume of respiratory tissue. In the case of distal acinar emphysema, the alveolar ducts and sacs of the lung are also affected.

Scientific Debate

Much is still unknown about the root causes of emphysema. For example, the exact nature of how the respiratory tissue is reduced and destroyed still needs to be precisely quantified. As a result, analysis of the disease at the autopsy stage often results in divergent conclusions, depending on who is doing the posthumous probing.

Nonetheless, the distal acinar strain of emphysema has some very specific characteristics. The name comes from the symptomatic lesions that occur on the periphery of the lung’s lobules. On its own, the condition can lead to pneumothorax in younger patients and bullous lung disease in older sufferers. The name of the strand refers to the kind of lesions that affect the lung, as well as their location on the peripheral part of the organ.

Lung Location

When the outbreak of distal acinar emphysema is limited to the anterior and posterior margins of the upper portion of the lung, it is more readily associated with the condition of fibrosis. However, when the “distal” part of the “acinus” (lung) is the main area affected with lesions, it becomes known as distal acinar emphysema.

Other diseases causally linked to the condition include: panacinar emphysema; bronchitis; centrilobular emphysema; and CAO (chronic airway obstruction). In the case of CAO, the correlation was first determined by the analysis of a patient at St. Bartholomews Hospital in London, England. The sufferer’s lung was exhumed and sent to another doctor in Cardiff, Wales, after which a concrete analysis was attained.



National Institutes of Health – “The Pathobiology and Epidimiology of Human Emphysema”, Retrieved April 5, 2011 from

Fessler/Reilly – “Lung Volume Reduction Surgery for Emphysema,” Retrieved April 5, 2011 from”distal acinar emphysema” %2B .edu&f=false

William M. Thurlbeck, Andrew Churg – “Pathology of the Lung”, Retrieved April 5, 2011 from”distal acinar emphysema” %2B .edu&f=false

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