Rationale: The serial computed tomography findings and prognosis of the acute exacerbation of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) are not yet well defined in a larger number of cases.
Objectives: To evaluate the parenchymal abnormalities and prognosis using high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) in acute exacerbation of IPF.
Methods: The study consisted of clinical, laboratory, and HRCT data before and at the time of acute exacerbation in 64 episodes of 58 patients with IPF. A semiquantitative analysis of overall extent of parenchymal abnormalities, extent of alveolar opacity (ground-glass attenuation and consolidation), and extent of fibrotic opacity (reticulation and honeycombing) on CT was performed by two chest radiologists. The newly appeared parenchymal abnormalities were also classified into three patterns: peripheral, multifocal, and diffuse.
Measurements and main results: In all patients, HRCT scans taken at the exacerbation showed typical signs of IPF and newly developing alveolar opacity. They included 34 patients of peripheral pattern, 8 of multifocal pattern, and 16 of diffuse pattern. Twenty-five patients died and 33 survived after the initial exacerbation. Worse survival was associated with patients with diffuse type compared with patients with multifocal and peripheral type. The CT patterns and overall CT extent were associated with an increased hazard of death after adjusting for age, sex, smoking, baseline diffusion capacity for carbon monoxide, baseline FVC, and disease extent on CT. On multivariate analysis, the strongest correlations were observed between CT patterns (combined diffuse and multifocal versus peripheral) and survival (odds ratio, 4.629; 95% confidence interval, 1.900-11.278; P = 0.001).
Conclusions: HRCT extent and patterns are predictive of survival in acute exacerbation of IPF.