Pictorial Review of Fibrotic Interstitial Lung Disease on High Resolution CT Scan and Updated Classification.

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washington; everett; prmc


TOPIC IMPORTANCE: Given the recently expanded approval of antifibrotics for various fibrotic interstitial lung diseases (ILDs), early and correct recognition of these diseases is imperative for physicians. Because high-resolution chest CT scan forms the backbone of diagnosis for ILD, this review will discuss evidence-based imaging findings of key fibrotic ILDs and an approach for differentiating these diseases.

REVIEW FINDINGS: (1) Imaging findings of nonspecific interstitial pneumonia may evolve over time and become indistinguishable from usual interstitial pneumonia. Therefore, if remote imaging can be reviewed, this would increase the likelihood of an accurate imaging diagnosis, particularly if findings appear to represent a usual interstitial pneumonia pattern on the recent examination. (2) Given the difficulty and lack of objectivity in classifying patients with hypersensitivity pneumonitis into acute, subacute, and chronic categories and that prognosis depends primarily on presence or absence of fibrosis, the new set of guidelines released in 2020 categorizes patients with hypersensitivity pneumonitis as either nonfibrotic (purely inflammatory) or fibrotic (either purely fibrotic or mixed fibrotic/inflammatory) based on imaging and/or histologic findings, and the prior temporal terms are no longer used. (3) Interstitial lung abnormalities are incidental CT scan findings that may suggest early ILD in patients without clinical suspicion for ILD. Patients with high-risk features should undergo clinical evaluation for ILD and be actively monitored for disease progression.

SUMMARY: Fibrotic ILD on high-resolution chest CT scan is a complex topic, but with use of an evidence-based analysis and algorithm as provided in this article, the probability of a correct imaging diagnosis increases.

Clinical Institute

Cardiovascular (Heart)




Internal Medicine


Diagnostic Imaging