Diagnostic Accuracy of Endobronchial Optical Coherence Tomography for the Microscopic Diagnosis of Usual Interstitial Pneumonia

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2021 Nov 15;204(10):1164-1179. doi: 10.1164/rccm.202104-0847OC.


Rationale: Early, accurate diagnosis of interstitial lung disease (ILD) informs prognosis and therapy, especially in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Current diagnostic methods are imperfect. High-resolution computed tomography has limited resolution, and surgical lung biopsy (SLB) carries risks of morbidity and mortality. Endobronchial optical coherence tomography (EB-OCT) is a low-risk, bronchoscope-compatible modality that images large lung volumes in vivo with microscopic resolution, including subpleural lung, and has the potential to improve the diagnostic accuracy of bronchoscopy for ILD diagnosis. Objectives: We performed a prospective diagnostic accuracy study of EB-OCT in patients with ILD with a low-confidence diagnosis undergoing SLB. The primary endpoints were EB-OCT sensitivity/specificity for diagnosis of the histopathologic pattern of usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) and clinical IPF. The secondary endpoint was agreement between EB-OCT and SLB for diagnosis of the ILD fibrosis pattern. Methods: EB-OCT was performed immediately before SLB. The resulting EB-OCT images and histopathology were interpreted by blinded, independent pathologists. Clinical diagnosis was obtained from the treating pulmonologists after SLB, blinded to EB-OCT. Measurements and Main Results: We enrolled 31 patients, and 4 were excluded because of inconclusive histopathology or lack of EB-OCT data. Twenty-seven patients were included in the analysis (16 men, average age: 65.0 yr): 12 were diagnosed with UIP and 15 with non-UIP ILD. Average FVC and DlCO were 75.3% (SD, 18.5) and 53.5% (SD, 16.4), respectively. Sensitivity and specificity of EB-OCT was 100% (95% confidence interval, 75.8-100.0%) and 100% (79.6-100%), respectively, for both histopathologic UIP and clinical diagnosis of IPF. There was high agreement between EB-OCT and histopathology for diagnosis of ILD fibrosis pattern (weighted κ: 0.87 [0.72-1.0]). Conclusions: EB-OCT is a safe, accurate method for microscopic ILD diagnosis, as a complement to high-resolution computed tomography and an alternative to SLB.

Keywords: idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; interstitial lung disease; in vivo microscopy; in vivo optical imaging; usual interstitial pneumonia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural