Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: progression of honeycombing at thin-section CT

Radiology. 1993 Dec;189(3):687-91. doi: 10.1148/radiology.189.3.8080483.


Purpose: To evaluate the progression of honeycombing at computed tomography (CT) and to determine serial changes in the pattern of disease.

Materials and methods: CT scans, obtained in 29 patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis who had undergone at least two serial CT examinations 1-52 months apart, were reviewed. Twelve patients had received no treatment, and 17 patients had received corticosteroids. Initial and follow-up CT scans were evaluated independently and then directly compared with each other.

Results: Twenty-six of the 29 patients showed progression of honeycombing, which was variable at CT (median, 0.4% [range, 0%-11%] per month) but not significantly different between untreated and treated patients. Areas of ground-glass attenuation on CT scans preceded and were predictive of the development of honeycombing in that location. Corticosteroid treatment reduced areas of ground-glass attenuation, but honeycombing on CT scans was irreversible.

Conclusion: Low-dose therapy with corticosteroids does not suppress alveolitis sufficiently to prevent continued deterioration of the alveolar structures.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / drug therapy
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / epidemiology
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*


  • Prednisolone
  • Methylprednisolone