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Respir Med. 2010 Nov;104(11):1712-21. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2010.05.014. Epub 2010 Jun 9.

The radiological patterns of interstitial change at an early phase: over a 4-year follow-up.

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Azumi General Hospital, Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano, Japan.



The identification of early phase interstitial changes may influence the understanding of idiopathic interstitial pneumonitis. This study aimed to clarify its radiological patterns and the association with smoking.


The subjects underwent low-dose computed tomography to screen lung cancer. The selected subjects with interstitial changes were monitored for the precise morphology of interstitial changes using a high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scan. The subjects were classified into normal and abnormal HRCT subjects. The radiological findings on the HRCT scan, serum Klebs von der Lungen-6 (KL-6), surfactant protein (SP)-A, SP-D, pulmonary function, and computed tomography (CT) scores were analyzed. Abnormal HRCT subjects were classified based on the radiological patterns, and were followed-up over a 4-year period.


HRCT abnormalities suggesting interstitial changes were identified in 80 of 3079 subjects. Seven subjects with honeycombing and 14 with combined pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema (CPFE) were identified. The frequencies of sex (male) and smoking in the subjects with honeycombing was higher than that of other patterns. The smoking history and the levels of serum KL-6, SP-A, and SP-D in abnormal HRCT subjects were significantly higher than those in normal HRCT subjects. Thirty-two of 73 abnormal HRCT subjects showed a progression of the CT scores in a chest HRCT over a 4-year period. Eighteen abnormal HRCT current smokers were included in the progression of CT scores.


HRCT patterns, excluding interlobular septal thickening, show the progression of CT scores. Smokers with CT abnormalities may have a tendency to demonstrate worsening interstitial changes.

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