Usual interstitial pneumonia

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Usual interstitial pneumonia
CT scan in usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP).jpg
CT scan of a patient with UIP. There is interstitial thickening, architectural distortion, honeycombing and bronchiectasis.
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 J84.1
ICD-9-CM 515
DiseasesDB 4815

Usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) is a form of lung disease characterized by progressive scarring of both lungs.[1] The scarring (fibrosis) involves the supporting framework (interstitium) of the lung. UIP is thus classified as a form of interstitial lung disease. The term "usual" refers to the fact that UIP is the most common form of interstitial fibrosis. "Pneumonia" indicates "lung abnormality", which includes fibrosis and inflammation. A term previously used for UIP in the British literature is cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis (CFA), a term that has fallen out of favor since the basic underlying pathology is now thought to be fibrosis, not inflammation. The term usual interstitial pneumonitis (UIP) has also often been used, but again, the -itis part of that name may overemphasize inflammation. Both UIP and CFA have been described as synonymous with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Signs and symptoms[edit]

The typical symptoms of UIP are progressive shortness of breath and cough for a period of months. In some patients, UIP is diagnosed only when a more acute disease supervenes and brings the patient to medical attention.


The cause of the scarring in UIP may be known (less commonly) or unknown (more commonly). Since the medical term for conditions of unknown cause is "idiopathic", the clinical term for UIP of unknown cause is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Examples of known causes of UIP include systemic sclerosis/scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, asbestosis, and prolonged use of medications such as nitrofurantoin or amiodarone.


Usual interstitial pneumonia seen on CT scan. Honeycomb fibrosis is seen at the bases of both lungs.

UIP may be diagnosed by a radiologist using computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest, or by a pathologist using tissue obtained by a lung biopsy. Radiologically, the main feature required for a confident diagnosis of UIP is honeycomb change in the periphery and the lower portions (bases) of the lungs.[2] The histologic hallmarks of UIP, as seen in lung tissue under a microscope by a pathologist, are interstitial fibrosis in a "patchwork pattern", honeycomb change and fibroblast foci (see images below).[3]

Differential diagnosis[edit]

The differential diagnosis includes other types of lung disease that cause similar symptoms and show similar abnormalities on chest radiographs. Some of these diseases cause fibrosis, scarring or honeycomb change. The most common considerations include:


Oxygen therapy may assist with daily living. In case of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, certain medications like pirfenidone can help slow the progression.[5] Lastly, lung transplants may help.


Regardless of cause, UIP is relentlessly progressive, usually leading to respiratory failure and death without a lung transplant. Some patients do well for a prolonged period of time, but then deteriorate rapidly because of a superimposed acute illness (so-called "accelerated UIP"). The outlook for long-term survival is poor. In most studies, the median survival is 3 to 4 years. Patients with UIP in the setting of rheumatoid arthritis have a slightly better prognosis than UIP without a known cause (IPF).


UIP, as a term, first appeared in the pathology literature. It was coined by Averill Abraham Liebow.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Travis WD, King TE, Bateman ED, et al. (2002). "ATS/ERS international multidisciplinary consensus classification of idiopathic interstitial pneumonias. General principles and recommendations". American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 165 (5): 277–304. doi:10.1164/ajrccm.165.2.ats01. PMID 11790668. 
  2. ^ Sumikawa H, et al. (2008). "Computed tomography findings in pathological usual interstitial pneumonia: relationship to survival". American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 177 (4): 433–439. doi:10.1164/rccm.200611-1696OC. PMID 17975197. 
  3. ^ Katzenstein AL, Mukhopadhyay S, Myers JL (2008). "Diagnosis of usual interstitial pneumonia and distinction from other fibrosing interstitial lung diseases". Human Pathology. 39 (9): 1275–1294. doi:10.1016/j.humpath.2008.05.009. PMID 18706349. 
  4. ^ Leslie, Kevin O; Wick, Mark R. (2005). Practical pulmonary pathology: a diagnostic approach. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. ISBN 0-443-06631-0. OCLC 156861539. 
  5. ^ Raghu, Ganesh; Rochwerg, Bram; Zhang, Yuan; Garcia, Carlos A. Cuello; Azuma, Arata; Behr, Juergen; Brozek, Jan L.; Collard, Harold R.; Cunningham, William; Homma, Sakae; Johkoh, Takeshi; Martinez, Fernando J.; Myers, Jeffrey; Protzko, Shandra L.; Richeldi, Luca; Rind, David; Selman, Moisés; Theodore, Arthur; Wells, Athol U.; Hoogsteden, Henk; Schünemann, Holger J. (15 July 2015). "An Official ATS/ERS/JRS/ALAT Clinical Practice Guideline: Treatment of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. An Update of the 2011 Clinical Practice Guideline". American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 192 (2): e3–e19. doi:10.1164/rccm.201506-1063ST. 
  6. ^ Averill Abraham Liebow at Who Named It?

External links[edit]