Background: Mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD) is associated with several chest manifestations. Only a few studies have focused on chest manifestations in juvenile-onset MCTD (jMCTD), and the true prevalence of pulmonary abnormalities on high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) in these patients is unknown.
Purpose: To investigate the occurrence of pulmonary abnormalities in jMCTD with particular reference to interstitial lung disease (ILD), and to evaluate a possible association between pulmonary findings and disease-related variables.
Material and methods: Twenty-four childhood-onset MCTD patients with median disease duration of 10.5 years (range 1-21 years) were investigated in a cross-sectional study by means of HRCT, pulmonary function tests (PFT), and clinical assessment.
Results: Discrete ILD was identified in six patients (25%). Median extent of ILD was 2.0%, and all except one of the patients had very mild disease in which 5% or less of the parenchyma was affected. The CT features of fibrosis were mainly microcystic and fine intralobular. The most frequently abnormal PFT was carbon monoxide uptake from the lung, which was abnormal in 33% of the patients. PFT and disease duration were not significantly associated with HRCT findings of ILD.
Conclusion: The prevalence of ILD in childhood-onset MCTD patients was lower than previously believed. In most of the patients with ILD, the findings were subtle and without clinical correlation. The results suggest a low extent of ILD in childhood-onset MCTD, even after long-term disease duration.