Interstitial lung disease (ILD), also known as diffuse parenchymal lung disease (DPLD), refers to a group of lung diseases affecting the interstitium (the tissue and space around the air sacs of the lungs). It concerns alveolar epithelium, pulmonary capillary endothelium, basement membrane, perivascular and perilymphatic tissues. The term ILD is used to distinguish these diseases from obstructive airways diseases.
Prolonged ILD may result in pulmonary fibrosis, but this is not always the case. The term Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is used to describe interstitial lung disease for which no obvious cause can be identified (idiopathic), and is associated with typical radiographic (basal and pleural based fibrosis with honeycombing) and pathologic (temporally and spatially heterogeneous fibrosis, histo pathologic honeycombing and fibroblastic foci) findings.
Investigation is tailored towards the symptoms and signs. A proper and detailed history looking for the occupational exposures, and for signs of conditions listed above is the first and probably the most important part of the workup in patients with interstitial lung disease. Pulmonary function tests usually show a restrictive defect with decreased diffusion capacity (DLCO) .
A lung biopsy is required if the clinical history and imaging are not clearly suggestive of a specific diagnosis or malignancy cannot otherwise be ruled out. In cases where a lung biopsy is indicated, a trans-bronchial biopsy is usually unhelpful, and a surgical lung biopsy is often required