Interstitial lung disease in systemic sclerosis quantification of disease classification and progression with high-resolution computed tomography: An observational study

Johan Clukers, Maarten Lanclus, Dennis Belmans, Cedric Van Holsbeke, Wilfried De Backer, Dharshan Vummidi, Paul Cronin, Ben R Lavon, Jan De Backer and Dinesh Khanna


Systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease accounts for up to 20% of mortality in these patients and has a highly variable prognosis. Functional respiratory imaging, a quantitative computed tomography imaging technique that allows mapping of regional information, can provide a detailed view of lung structures. It thereby shows potential to better characterize this disease.


To evaluate the use of functional respiratory imaging quantitative computed tomography in systemic sclerosis–
associated interstitial lung disease staging, as well as the relationship between short-term changes in pulmonary function tests and functional respiratory imaging quantitative computed tomography with respect to disease severity.
Materials and methods: An observational cohort of 35 patients with systemic sclerosis was retrospectively studied
by comparing serial pulmonary function tests and in- and expiratory high-resolution computed tomography over 1.5-
year interval. After classification into moderate to severe lung disease and limited lung disease (using a hybrid method integrating quantitative computed tomography and pulmonary function tests), post hoc analysis was performed using mixed-effects models and estimated marginal means in terms of functional respiratory imaging parameters.


At follow-up, relative mean forced vital capacity percentage change was not significantly different in the limited
(6.37%; N=13; p=0.053) and moderate to severe disease (−3.54%; N=16; p=0.102) groups, respectively. Specific airway resistance decreased from baseline for both groups. (Least square mean changes −25.11% predicted (p=0.006) and
−14.02% predicted (p=0.001) for limited and moderate to severe diseases.) In contrast to limited disease from baseline,
specific airway radius increased in moderate to severe disease by 8.57% predicted (p=0.011) with the decline of lower lobe volumes of 2.97% predicted (p=0.031).


Functional respiratory imaging is able to differentiate moderate to severe disease versus limited disease and to detect disease progression in systemic sclerosis.

Categorised in: / June 14, 2021 11:41 am / Published by