Chronic respiratory disease

March 2010

FocusChronic respiratory disease

Interstitial lung disease

An approach to diagnosis and management

Volume 39, No.3, March 2010 Pages 106-110

James Ward

Christine F McDonald


Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a term that describes a diverse range of lung conditions, which are an important cause of morbidity and mortality in all age groups. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is the most common ILD in older adults and generally has a poor prognosis. Sarcoidosis is more common in younger adults and generally has a more benign prognosis.


This article aims to increase the reader’s understanding of the aetiology of ILD and to provide a general approach to diagnosis along with the basic principles of management of these conditions.


As ILDs can progress to pulmonary fibrosis, early detection is important. The clinical course of ILD varies considerably, largely determined by the underlying cause. While some forms of ILD remain essentially untreatable, many forms respond well to treatment. It is therefore imperative that a prompt and accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause is made so that appropriate management can be instituted.

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