Short-term Automated Quantification of Radiologic Changes in the Characterization of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Versus Nonspecific Interstitial Pneumonia and Prediction of Long-term Survival

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Fibrotic interstitial lung diseases presenting with nonspecific and overlapping radiologic findings may be difficult to diagnose without surgical biopsy. We hypothesized that baseline quantifiable radiologic features and their short-term interval change may be predictive of underlying histologic diagnosis as well as long-term survival in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) presenting without honeycombing versus nonspecific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP).

Materials and Methods:

Forty biopsy-confirmed IPF and 20 biopsy-confirmed NSIP patients with available high-resolution chest computed tomography 4 to 24 months apart were studied. CALIPER software was used for the automated characterization and quantification of radiologic findings.


IPF subjects were older (66 vs. 48; P<0.0001) with lower diffusion capacity for carbon monoxide and higher volumes of baseline reticulation (193 vs. 83 mL; P<0.0001). Over the interval period, compared with NSIP, IPF patients experienced greater functional decline (forced vital capacity, −6.3% vs. −1.7%; P=0.02) and radiologic progression, as noted by greater increase in reticulation volume (24 vs. 1.74 mL; P=0.048), and decrease in normal (−220 vs. −37.7 mL; P=0.045) and total lung volumes (−198 vs. 58.1 mL; P=0.03). Older age, male gender, higher reticulation volumes at baseline, and greater interval decrease in normal lung volumes were predictive of IPF. Both baseline and short-term changes in quantitative radiologic findings were predictive of mortality.


Baseline quantitative radiologic findings and assessment of short-term disease progression may help characterize underlying IPF versus NSIP in those with difficult to differentiate clinicoradiologic presentations. Our study supports the possible utility of assessing serial quantifiable high-resolution chest computed tomographic findings for disease differentiation in these 2 entities.

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