Computed Tomography As A Predictor Of Lung Function In Systemic Sclerosis Patients

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A recent research published in the Journal of Arthritis & Rheumatology has proclaimed High Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) scan to be a valuable predictor of lung function that is compromised in patients suffering from systemic sclerosis. 

Systemic sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the healthy connective tissue of the body is attacked resulting in tightening of skin, blood vessels, GIT structures and lung tissue. The degree of lung fibrosis that develops in patients of systemic sclerosis can be easily evaluated using HRCT combined with Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs). Fibrosis has the potential to progress to Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) in which the lung tissue undergoes scarring. 

This study was designed to determine the risk stratification for ILD in systemic sclerosis patients. A cohort of 305 patients was evaluated for lung fibrosis via HRCT and PFTs. 40 patients were found to have more than 20% fibrosis (group I), 157 patients had 1 to 20%  (group II)and 108 patients had no fibrosis (group III). In the follow-up studies, 11 of the group II patients were found to have developed more than 20% lung fibrosis.

The rate of progression of fibrosis varied and was found to be in close association with the forced vital capacity (FVC). Thus it was postulated that baseline HRCT can be employed to compute the rate of increase in fibrosis so as to guide the treatment of systemic sclerosis and to predict the prognosis of the disease as well as to determine the risk of ILD in such patients.

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