Screening for Subclinical Interstitial Lung Disease in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: Functional and Radiological Methods

Turk Thorac J. 2022 Jul;23(4):261-267. doi: 10.5152/TurkThoracJ.2022.21263.


Objective: Interstitial lung disease is the most frequent lung symptom of rheumatoid arthritis and is a significant contributor to morbid- ity. As a result, the target of this research was to measure the frequency of radiological and functional abnormalities in rheumatoid arthritis patients who did not have any respiratory symptoms.

Material and methods: This study consists of 30 patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. All involved cases were exposed to entire history taking and clinical examination. All patients were examined by high-resolution computed tomography and pulmonary function tests.

Results: According to the computed tomography visual score, 73.3% showed interstitial lung disease. The most common abnormalities were reticular patterns (46.7%) followed by nodular patterns (40%) and septal lines (23.3%). However, 36% of the patients had a normal pulmonary function, while 32% had a small airway affection, 20% had restrictive lung disease, and 12% had obstructive lung disease. A significant association was found between supine expiratory volume and computed tomography visual score. Results showed no associa- tion between interstitial lung disease and all lung function test parameters.

Conclusion: Subclinical interstitial lung disease is frequent among rheumatoid arthritis patents. A combination of pulmonary func- tion tests with computed tomography is essential to enhance the recognition of subclinical interstitial lung disease as normal pulmonary function alone cannot exclude its presence.