Giant-cell interstitial pneumonia and hard-metal pneumoconiosis. A clinicopathologic study of four cases and review of the literature

Am J Surg Pathol. 1989 Jul;13(7):581-7. doi: 10.1097/00000478-198907000-00006.


We report four cases of giant-cell interstitial pneumonia that occurred in association with exposure to hard metals. All patients presented with chronic interstitial lung disease and had open-lung biopsies that revealed marked interstitial fibrosis, cellular interstitial infiltrates, and prominent intraalveolar macrophages as well as giant cells displaying cellular cannibalism. We also review the literature to determine the sensitivity and specificity of giant-cell interstitial pneumonia for hard-metal pneumoconiosis. Although hard-metal pneumoconiosis may take the form of usual interstitial pneumonia, desquamative interstitial pneumonia, and giant-cell interstitial pneumonia, the finding of giant-cell interstitial pneumonia is almost pathognomonic of hard-metal disease and should provoke an investigation of occupational exposure.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alloys / adverse effects*
  • Cobalt / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metallurgy
  • Occupational Diseases / pathology*
  • Pneumoconiosis / etiology
  • Pneumoconiosis / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / etiology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology*


  • Alloys
  • Cobalt