Interstitial lung disease: raising the index of suspicion in primary care

Joseph D Zibrak, David Price

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14 Citations (Scopus)
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Interstitial lung disease (ILD) describes a group of diseases that cause progressive scarring of the lung tissue through inflammation and fibrosis. The most common form of ILD is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which has a poor prognosis. ILD is rare and mainly a disease of the middle-aged and elderly. The symptoms of ILD-chronic dyspnoea and cough-are easily confused with the symptoms of more common diseases, particularly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure. ILD is infrequently seen in primary care and a precise diagnosis of these disorders can be challenging for physicians who rarely encounter them. Confirming a diagnosis of ILD requires specialist expertise and review of a high-resolution computed tomography scan (HRCT). Primary care physicians (PCPs) play a key role in facilitating the diagnosis of ILD by referring patients with concerning symptoms to a pulmonologist and, in some cases, by ordering HRCTs. In our article, we highlight the importance of prompt diagnosis of ILD and describe the circumstances in which a PCP's suspicion for ILD should be raised in a patient presenting with chronic dyspnoea on exertion, once more common causes of dyspnoea have been investigated and excluded.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14054
Journalnpj Primary Care Respiratory Medicine
Early online date11 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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