Objectives: This study tested a new high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scoring method for asbestos-induced parenchymal changes in the lung.
Methods: HRCT scans of 602 asbestos-exposed workers and 49 referents were reviewed by 3 radiologists. Structured forms were filled out for a semiquantitative HRCT fibrosis score based on several specified parenchymal abnormalities scored separately. Observer agreement was studied with the use of the quadratic-weighted kappa (kappaqw). The HRCT fibrosis score (from 0 to V with definitions and index images given retrospectively) was compared with the radiographic classification of the International Labour Office (ILO) for the same patients. Receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curves were computed to compare the tests for diagnosing asbestosis.
Results: Good inter- and intraobserver agreements were achieved (kappaqw = 0.64 and 0.72, respectively) as regards the HRCT fibrosis score. All the specified computed tomography findings explained 86% of the variance in the HRCT fibrosis score. Age and occupational group were significant predictors of fibrosis. The area under the ROC curve was significantly greater for the HRCT fibrosis score (0.89) than for the ILO radiographic classification (0.76). The sensitivity (70%) and specificity (91%) of the HRCT fibrosis score (classes I/II-V representing asbestosis) were better than those of the classification published by the International Labour Office (51% and 89%, respectively, score > or = 1/0 representing asbestosis).
Conclusions: The examined HRCT scoring method proved to be a simple, reliable, and reproducible method for classifying lung fibrosis and diagnosing asbestosis also in large populations with occupational disease, and it would be possible to use it as a part of an international classification.