There have been few inter-observer studies of diffuse parenchymal lung disease (DPLD), but the recent ATS/ERS consensus classification provides a basis for such a study.Methods:
A method for categorising numerically the percentage likelihood of these differential diagnoses was developed, and the diagnostic confidence of pathologists using this classification and the reproducibility of their diagnoses were assessed.Results:
The overall kappa coefficient of agreement for the first choice diagnosis was 0.38 (n = 133 biopsies), increasing to 0.43 for patients (n = 83) with multiple biopsies. Weighted kappa coefficients of agreement, quantifying the level of probability of individual diagnoses, were moderate to good (mean 0.58, range 0.40–0.75). However, in 18% of biopsy specimens the diagnosis was given with low confidence. Over 50% of inter-observer variation related to the diagnosis of non-specific interstitial pneumonia and, in particular, its distinction from usual interstitial pneumonia.Conclusion:
These results show that the ATS/ERS classification can be applied reproducibly by pathologists who evaluate DPLD routinely, and support the practice of taking multiple biopsy specimens.