Objective: The purpose of our study was to determine if three-level thin-section CT depicts idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) pathology as accurately as CT obtained at 10-mm increments throughout the entire lungs.
Subjects and methods: Thin-section (1.0- to 1.5-mm) images at 10-mm increments were obtained and scored prospectively in 25 consecutive patients with newly diagnosed IPF who were participating in a Special Center of Research grant for interstitial lung disease. Each patient's lobe was scored by four thoracic radiologists on a scale of 0-5 for both ground-glass attenuation and fibrosis. The radiologists used three images (limited CT) and also used the entire data set (complete CT). CT scores were compared with pathology scores from 67 open and thoracoscopic biopsies. Limited and complete scores were compared with each other (Pearson correlation coefficient). Interobserver variation in the CT scoring system was assessed using kappa values.
Results: CT fibrosis scores strongly correlated with pathology fibrosis scores for complete (r = .53, p = .0001) and limited (r = .50, p = .0001) CT. CT ground-glass scores correlated with the histologic inflammatory scores for each lobe on complete (r = .27, p = .03) and limited (r = .26, p = .03) CT. The desquamative subcomponent of the pathology inflammatory score had the highest correlation with the CT ground-glass scores (complete: r = .29, p = .01; limited: r = .33, p = .007). Good interobserver agreement existed for both the alveolar and fibrosis components of the CT scoring system (kappa values ranging from .51 to .83) for each lobe of the lung on limited and complete CT.
Conclusion: Limited thin-section CT reveals the pathologic changes associated with IPF as well as CT obtained at 10-mm increments. An added advantage of limited thin-section CT is that it exposes patients to less radiation.