Background Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is currently the primary cause of death in systemic sclerosis (SSc). Thoracic high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) is considered the gold standard for diagnosis. Recent studies have proposed several clinical algorithms to predict the diagnosis and prognosis of SSc-ILD.
Objectives To test the clinical algorithms to predict the presence and prognosis of SSc-ILD, and to evaluate the association of extent of ILD with mortality in a cohort of SSc patients.
Methods Prospective cohort study, including 177 SSc patients assessed by clinical evaluation, laboratory tests, pulmonary function tests, and HRCT. Three clinical algorithms, combining lung auscultation, chest radiography and % predicted forced vital capacity (FVC), were applied for the diagnosis of different extents of ILD on HRCT. Univariate and multivariate Cox proportional models were used to analyze the association of algorithms [1,2] and the extent of ILD on HRCT with the risk of death using hazard ratios (HR).
Results The prevalence of ILD on HRCT was 57.1% and 79 patients died (44.6%) in a median follow-up of 11.1 years. For identification of ILD with extent ≥10 and ≥20% on HRCT, all algorithms presented a high sensitivity (>89%) and a very low negative likelihood ratio (<0.16). For prognosis, survival was decreased for all algorithms, especially the algorithm C (HR 3.47, 95% CI 1.62–7.42), which identified the presence of ILD based on crackles on lung auscultation, findings on chest X-ray or FVC <80%. Extensive disease as proposed by Goh and Wells (extent of ILD >20% on HRCT or, in indeterminate cases, FVC <70%) had a significantly higher risk of death (HR 3.42, 95% CI 2.12 to 5.52). Survival was not different between patients with extent of 10 or 20% of ILD on HRCT, and analysis of 10-year mortality suggested that a threshold of 10% may also have a good predictive value for mortality. However, there is no clear cutoff above which mortality is sharply increased.
Conclusions Clinical algorithms had a good diagnostic performance for extents of SSc-ILD on HRCT with clinical and prognostic relevance (≥10 and ≥20%), and were also strongly related to mortality. Therefore, they probably could be used to obviate the requirement of HRCT in some cases.
Steele R, Hudson M, Lo E, Baron M. Clinical decision rule to predict the presence of interstitial lung disease in systemic sclerosis. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken) 2012;64:519–24.
Goh NSL, Desai SR, Veeraraghavan S, Hansell DM, Copley SJ, Maher TM, et al. Interstitial lung disease in systemic sclerosis: A simple staging system. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2008;177:1248–54.
Disclosure of Interest None declared
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