Quantification of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis using computed tomography and histology

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1997 May;155(5):1649-56. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.155.5.9154871.


We used computed tomography (CT) and histologic analysis to quantify lung structure in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). CT scans were obtained from IPF and control patients and lung volumes were estimated from measurements of voxel size, and X-ray attenuation values of each voxel. Quantitative estimates of lung structure were obtained from biopsies obtained from diseased and normal CT regions using stereologic methods. CT density was used to calculate the proportion of tissue and air, and this value was used to correct the biopsy specimens to the level of inflation during the CT scan. The data show that IPF is associated with a reduction in airspace volume with no change in tissue volume or weight compared with control lungs. Lung surface area decreased two-thirds (p < 0.001) and mean parenchymal thickness increased tenfold (p < 0.001). An exudate of fluid and cells was present in the airspace of the diseased lung regions and the number of inflammatory cells, collagen, and proteoglycans was increased per 100 g of tissue in IPF. We conclude that IPF reorganized lung tissue content causing a loss of airspace and surface area without increasing the total lung tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Volume Measurements
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size
  • Pulmonary Diffusing Capacity
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Vital Capacity