Objective. Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a common extra-articular manifestation of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. The objective of this study was to define high-resolution chest CT (HRCT) and pulmonary function test (PFT) abnormalities capable of identifying asymptomatic, preclinical forms of RA-ILD that may represent precursors to more severe fibrotic lung disease. Methods. We analyzed chest HRCTs in consecutively enrolled RA patients and subsequently classified these individuals as RA-ILD or RA-no ILD based on the presence/absence of ground glass opacification, septal thickening, reticulation, traction bronchiectasis, and/or honeycombing. Coexisting PFT abnormalities (reductions in percent predicted FEV1, FVC, TLC, and/or DLCO) were also used to further characterize occult respiratory defects. Results. 61% (63/103) of RA patients were classified as RA-ILD based on HRCT and PFT abnormalities, while 39% (40/103) were designated as RA-no ILD. 57/63 RA-ILD patients lacked symptoms of significant dyspnea or cough at the time of HRCT and PFT assessment. Compared with RA-no ILD, RA-ILD patients were older and had longer disease duration, higher articular disease activity, and more significant PFT abnormalities. Conclusion. HRCT represents an effective tool to detect occult/asymptomatic ILD that is highly prevalent in our unselected, university-based cohort of RA patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy