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Prim Care Respir J. 2011 Jun;20(2):120-7. doi: 10.4104/pcrj.2010.00079.

Diagnostic assessment of patients with interstitial lung disease.

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Department of Pulmonary & Critical Care, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


The diagnosis of interstitial lung disease (ILD) is frequently delayed because clinical clues are neglected and respiratory symptoms are ascribed to more common pulmonary diagnoses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the primary care setting. While ILD cases ultimately require referral to a pulmonologist, general practitioners can play a crucial role in recognising the need for, and initiating, a diagnostic evaluation. An initial assessment hinges upon a structured history and physical examination with careful attention paid to occupational, environmental and drug exposures as well as a history of symptoms suggesting connective tissue disease. Ultimately a surgical lung biopsy may be indicated, but high resolution computed tomography (HRCT) chest scans are essential to the diagnostic workup since each ILD form is characterised by a specific pattern of abnormalities.

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