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  • Important to identify specific fibrosing disorders.

  • Idiopathic disease may require biopsy for diagnosis.

  • Accurate diagnosis identifies patients most likely to benefit from therapy.


The most common diagnosis among patients with diffuse interstitial lung disease is one of the interstitial pneumonias, including all the entities described in Table 9–17. Historically, a diagnosis of interstitial lung disease was based on clinical and radiographic criteria with only a small number of patients undergoing surgical lung biopsy. When biopsies were obtained, the common element of fibrosis led to the grouping together of several histologic patterns under the category of interstitial pneumonia or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Distinct histopathologic features are now understood to represent different natural histories and responses to therapy (Table 9–17). Therefore, in the evaluation of patients with diffuse interstitial lung disease, clinicians should attempt to identify specific disorders.

Table 9–17.Idiopathic interstitial pneumonias.

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