Impact of Lung Biopsy Information on Treatment Strategy of Patients with Interstitial Lung Diseases

Sara Tomassetti, Claudia Ravaglia, Silvia Puglisi, Jay H. Ryu, Thomas V. Colby, Alberto Cavazza, Athol U. Wells, Mauro Pavone, Carlo Vancheri, Federico Lavorini, Marco Matucci-Cerinic, Elisabetta Rosi, Valentina Luzzi, Leonardo Gori, Giulio Rossi, Luca Donati, Alessandra Dubini, Sara Piciucchi, Venerino Poletti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale: Lung biopsy (LBx) has a relevant role in the prediction of prognosis of interstitial lung diseases (ILDs), but its impact on the clinical management of patients remains unexplored. Objectives: This study evaluates whether LBx may change the therapeutic strategy and assesses the effect of diagnostic reclassification after LBx on long-term prognosis. Methods: We evaluated the LBx of 426 consecutive patients with ILDs, without a definite usual interstitial pneumonia pattern on high-resolution computed tomographic imaging. A total of 266 patients underwent transbronchial lung cryobiopsy (TBLC), and 160 patients underwent surgical lung biopsy (SLB). The multidisciplinary team(MDT) determined a diagnosis with high or low confidence, and a management strategy, both before and after the LBx data. Results: FinalMDT diagnoses were 189 idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), 143 non-IPF fibrotic ILDs, and 94 nonfibrotic ILDs. LBx data changed themanagement strategy in 145 cases (34%), with similar results for TBLC and SLB (the treatment strategy changed in 31.5% of TBLC cases, 84/266, P<0.001, and in 38% of SLB, 61/160, P<0.001). After LBx, theMDT was less inclined to "wait and see"(from15% to 4% of cases, P<0.001) or to prescribe steroids only (from54% to 37%, P<0.001) and wasmore confident to treat with antifibrotics (from 23% to 44%, P<0.001) or immunosuppressive drugs (from 7% to 14%, P<0.001). The therapeutic strategy changed in 70% of reclassified cases (60/85) and in 59% of cases in which LBx increased theMDT confidence (84/142). Reclassification significantly impacted the outcome. The cases classified as non-IPF by clinician and radiologist and then reclassified to be IPF after LBx showed a significantly worse survival compared with non-IPF confirmed cases (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 3.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.75-8.3); P = 0.001. Cases initially classified as IPF and then reclassified as non-IPF after LBx showed a better prognosis compared with IPF confirmed cases (HR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.18-0.94; P = 0.03). Conclusions: Reclassification of cases with LBx data increased diagnostic confidence and changed the therapeutic strategy in one-third of cases. Pathologic reclassification of cases refined prognosis prediction. Patients classified as non-IPF by clinician and radiologist and then reclassified IPF after LBx had worse prognosis compared with the non-IPF confirmed cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-745
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Transbronchial lung cryobiopsy
  • idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • interstitial lung diseases IPF treatment
  • surgical lung biopsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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