Global consumption of marijuana is increasing, but there is a paucity of evidence concerning associated lung imaging findings.
To use chest CT to investigate the effects of marijuana smoking in the lung.
Materials and Methods
This retrospective case-control study evaluated results of chest CT examinations (from October 2005 to July 2020) in marijuana smokers, nonsmoker control patients, and tobacco-only smokers. We compared rates of emphysema, airway changes, gynecomastia, and coronary artery calcification. Age- and sex-matched subgroups were created for comparison with tobacco-only smokers older than 50 years. Results were analyzed using χ2 tests.
A total of 56 marijuana smokers (34 male; mean age, 49 years ± 14 [SD]), 57 nonsmoker control patients (32 male; mean age, 49 years ± 14), and 33 tobacco-only smokers (18 male; mean age, 60 years ± 6) were evaluated. Higher rates of emphysema were seen among marijuana smokers (42 of 56 [75%]) than nonsmokers (three of 57 [5%]) (P < .001) but not tobacco-only smokers (22 of 33 [67%]) (P = .40). Rates of bronchial thickening, bronchiectasis, and mucoid impaction were higher among marijuana smokers compared with the other groups (P < .001 to P = .04). Gynecomastia was more common in marijuana smokers (13 of 34 [38%]) than in control patients (five of 32 [16%]) (P = .039) and tobacco-only smokers (two of 18 [11%]) (P = .040). In age-matched subgroup analysis of 30 marijuana smokers (23 male), 29 nonsmoker control patients (17 male), and 33 tobacco-only smokers (18 male), rates of bronchial thickening, bronchiectasis, and mucoid impaction were again higher in the marijuana smokers than in the tobacco-only smokers (P < .001 to P = .006). Emphysema rates were higher in age-matched marijuana smokers (28 of 30 [93%]) than in tobacco-only smokers (22 of 33 [67%]) (P = .009). There was no difference in rate of coronary artery calcification between age-matched marijuana smokers (21 of 30 [70%]) and tobacco-only smokers (28 of 33 [85%]) (P = .16).
Airway inflammation and emphysema were more common in marijuana smokers than in nonsmokers and tobacco-only smokers, although variable interobserver agreement and concomitant cigarette smoking among the marijuana-smoking cohort limits our ability to draw strong conclusions.