A histologic feature of usual interstitial pneumonia is the presence of fibroblastic foci. As some patients with usual interstitial pneumonia and an underlying collagen vascular disease have a better prognosis, we hypothesized that they would have fewer fibroblastic foci. Pathologists reviewed surgical lung biopsies from 108 patients with usual interstitial pneumonia (nine with collagen vascular disease) and assigned a score (absent 0, mild 1, moderate 2, and marked 3) for fibroblastic foci. Patients with idiopathic usual interstitial pneumonia had a higher median profusion of fibroblastic foci (1.75 vs. 1.0, p = 0.003). Baseline characteristics were similar, although patients with a collagen vascular disease were younger, had a shorter duration of symptoms, and had a higher percentage of predicted total lung capacity. Profusion of fibroblastic foci was the most discriminative feature for separating idiopathic from collagen vascular disease–associated usual interstitial pneumonia (odds ratio 8.31; 95% confidence interval, 1.98, 59.42; p = 0.002 for a one-unit increase in fibroblastic foci score). No deaths were noted in the collagen vascular disease–associated usual interstitial pneumonia group; 52 deaths occurred in the idiopathic usual interstitial pneumonia group (log rank; p = 0.005). We conclude that patients with collagen vascular disease–associated usual interstitial pneumonia have fewer fibroblastic foci and improved survival
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