The Reid Index is a mathematical relationship that exists in a human bronchus section observed under the microscope. It is defined as ratio between the thickness of the submucosal mucus secreting glands and the thickness between the epithelium and cartilage that covers the bronchi. The Reid index is not of diagnostic use in vivo since it requires a dissection of the airway tube, but it has value in post mortem evaluations and for research.
- RI is the Reid Index
- wall is the thickness of the airway wall between the epithelium and the cartilage's perichondrium
- gland is the thickness of the mucus-producing gland at the location of inspection.
A normal Reid Index should be smaller than 0.4, the thickness of the wall is always more than double the thickness of the glands it contains. Chronic smoking causes submucosal gland hypertrophy and hyperplasia, leading to a Reid Index of >0.5 indicating chronic bronchitis.