A computer program using BALF-analysis results as a diagnostic tool in interstitial lung diseases

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1996 Feb;153(2):736-41. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.153.2.8564126.


Recently, we showed that it is possible to distinguish between three common interstitial lung diseases (ILD) with similarities in clinical presentation by using a number of selected variables derived from bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) analysis. The aim of this study was to develop a more general discriminant model, based on polychotomous logistic regression analysis. The 277 patients involved in the study belonged to diagnostic groups with sarcoidosis (n = 193), extrinsic allergic alveolitis (EAA; n = 39), and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF; n = 45). The diagnosis had been established independently of the BALF-analysis results. The variables used to discriminate among these patient groups were the yield of recovered BALF, total cell count, and percentages of alveolar macrophages, lymphocytes, neutrophils, and eosinophils. In order to test the predictive power of the logistic model, we used 128 patients having sarcoidosis (n = 91), EAA (n = 5), or IPF (n = 32) from another hospital. In this test set the agreement of predicted with actual diagnostic-group membership was the same as in the learning set in which the logistic model was fitted: 94.5% of the cases were correctly classified. A validated computer program based on the polychotomous logistic regression model can be used to predict the diagnosis for an arbitrary patient with information provided by BALF analysis, and is thought to be of diagnostic value in patients suspected of having ILD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alveolitis, Extrinsic Allergic / diagnosis
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology*
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / diagnosis
  • Sarcoidosis, Pulmonary / diagnosis
  • Sensitivity and Specificity